Eurofighter Typhoon Testing: 5,000 Flying Hours, Meteor and More

Instrumented Production Aircraft Four (IPA4), fitted with the Meteor missile, is prepared for flight at Morón AB in Spain.
Photo: Eurofighter

3/22/2007 - Hallbergmoos – The four Nation Eurofighter Typhoon test fleet has achieved the 5,000th flying hour. The milestone flight, piloted by Capt. Carlos Esteban Pinilla EADS CASA Eurofighter test pilot on Monday 19 March at Morón, saw IPA4 undertake environmental data gathering with a Meteor air-to-air missile.

With aircraft development work now centred on future capabilities, the focus of the test fleet is about to change. The test fleet will focus on testing and evaluation of new software to improve the capability of sub-systems thus increasing the overall weapon system performance.

Five Development Aircraft (DA) have already completed their contracted tasks. The last in-service DA, is DA7 which is continuing to work alongside the five Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) and Instrumented Series Production Aircraft One (ISPA1). The focus for the Flight Test Programme is on completing the Final Operational Capability standard to close the Main Development Contract and finalising the work on the Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST)/ Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR), the new helmet plus further air-to-ground testing. Also work on the integration of a Laser Designator Pod (under contract for the Royal Air Force) shall continue. Aerodynamic testing has already been done by IPA3 at EADS Military Air Systems.

DA5 is in the process of being readied for first flights with the CAESAR electronic scanning radar antenna, the enhanced radar under development by the EURORADAR consortium as a potential replacement for the CAPTOR radar. The flights will be conducted at EADS Military Air Systems’ facility in Manching, Germany.

Additionally, two further test aircraft are in final assembly and are scheduled to join the test fleet for clearance work on Tranche 2. IPA6, at BAE Systems, is a Tranche 1 aircraft with Tranche 2 avionics and new standards of hardware and software, and will be used to clear the first Tranche 2 capability standard (Block 8) into service. IPA7, a German single-seat aircraft, is the first real Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon and will be operated by EADS Military Air Systems, at Manching.

The integration of advanced weapons is set to become a major task with the continuation of testing of the new European Long Range Air-To-Air Missile, Meteor. Developed by the MBDA Meteor programme team, two test campaigns are to be conducted in March and April following the release of funding from the customer.

The purpose of the two campaigns in Spain and Italy is to gather environmental data for the final design of the missile. Five Flights with IPA4 of EADS CASA began 15 March in Morón, Spain, using the so-called Meteor Environmental Data Gathering Missile and ended on 20 March. The aim was to fly Meteor on front and rear fuselage stations in order to collect data on how the missile responds in the vibration, load and temperature environments.

A second campaign is planned for later in April in Italy, the purpose of which is also environmental data gathering but, for the first time, Meteor will fly on the outboard pylons of Eurofighter Typhoon. The focus of these flights is to explore missile reactions to flutter and vibration.

This second Meteor testing campaign is a risk reduction initiative for the projected integration of Meteor into Eurofighter Typhoon. After completion of these series of tests, Meteor will have flown on all applicable stations on Eurofighter Typhoon, having first flown on the aircraft in late 2005.

Source: Eurofighter Press Release

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