The combat-tested European Typhoon fighter is now being armed and upgraded with new weapons, firepower, targeting technologies, radar and sensors to ensure its viability for future war, according to a recently posted image on the Eurofighter Typhoon website.
The image shows what may be yet another upgrade to the fighter jet, as it is shows a “Beast Mode” configuration with fourteen Meteor Beyond Visual Range weapons and two Infrared Imaging System Tail-Thrust Vector Controlled short-range air-to-air missiles, along with an external fuel tank for extended missions.
The Typhoon fighter, a versatile supersonic aircraft now operated by the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman, has been in service in 2003.
In recent years, the Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role aircraft has been equipped with a new precision-guided, stealthy long-range cruise missile and an active electronically scanned array radar system, company officials told me at the Farnborough International Air Show several years ago.
The Typhoon has also been armed with the high-tech Storm Shadow missile, currently configured onto the Royal Air Force’s Tornado aircraft. Built by design with a smooth stealthy exterior, the Storm Shadow weighs about 1,300 kilos and uses a multi-mode precision guidance system including GPS, inertial navigation systems and terrain reference technology, Paul Smith, former UK Royal Air Force pilot, Typhoon operational test pilot and Fighter Weapons School Instructor, told me at Farnborough in 2014.
In service since 2003, the Storm Shadow’s first use in combat came during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was also fired against hardened targets during NATO military action in Libya in 2011. Smith said the weapon has a 200-km range and was used to destroy Saddam Hussein’s bunkers at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The weapon was reportedly so accurate that it fired two missiles through the same hole in a bunker. The Storm Shadow uses a BROACH warhead, which features an initial penetrating charge to clear soil or enter a bunker, then a variable delay fuze to control detonation of the main warhead.
Operating as a defense industry conglomerate involving BAE Systems, Airbus Defense and Space and Alenia Finmeccanica, Eurofighter made an acquisition deal with European Missile-maker MBDA to integrate the Storm Shadow missile onto the Typhoon.
The Typhoon enhancements have also included the addition of a short-range stand-off missile called Brimstone II, a precision-guided weapon that has also been in service on the British Tornado aircraft. Originally designed as a tank-killer weapon, Brimstone II is engineered with an all-weather, highly-precise millimeter wave seeker, Smith said. In Afghanistan many years ago, a Brimstone was used to destroy an Al Qaeda terrorist on a motorcycle traveling at 60km per hour.
Overall, the aircraft previously had thirteen hardpoints for dedicated air-to-air missiles, some of which can be configured to drop bombs such as JDAMS. Smith elaborated that the GPS and laser-guided bombs carried by the Typhoon include 2,000, 1,000 and 500 pound GBUs and the Paveway IV, a 500-pound laser-guided bomb.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.