Warplanes: August 11, 2000

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another 18 aircraft may be added to the program.--Stephen V Cole

EUROFIGHTER UPDATE; The parts for the first production Eurofighter Typhoon are under construction, and the aircraft should be complete this fall. The first five will be Instrumented Production Aircraft which will be used to continue the flight testing program begun by the prototypes. Production aircraft differ from the prototypes by changes around the inboard pylons to provide more internal fuel and air-to-ground weapons. Britain's Royal Air Force will get the first delivered production aircraft in August 2001. The aircraft will be built in three "tranches", the first of 148 aircraft by 2005, the second of 236 aircraft from 2002 through 2009, and the third of 236 aircraft from 2006 through 2015. Contracts have not been signed yet for the second and third tranches. The first delivered aircraft will have only a limited air defense capability. Later batches will come with software for improved air-to-air combat, including data links, direct voice input, and defensive aids. Even later, software and hardware will provide infrared search & track, helmet-mounted displays, improved defensive aids, and a basic-air-to-ground capability. Each batch of improved software and hardware will be retrofitted to earlier aircraft. The phased approach is not expected to cause problems, as each air force will need a couple of years to fully train pilots and deploy aircraft. All Eurofighters will initially carry AMRAAM, although all of the building countries are committed to the all-European Meteor. The problem is that Meteor does not yet exist, and the Germans have indicated that it does not meet their requirements and should be redesigned. Germany plans to use 135 of its Typhoons as air defense fighters, replacing the F-4Fs by 2002 and the MiG-29s in 2004. The other 40 will be used as multi-role strike fighters, replacing the oldest Tornadoes in 2012. Italy plans to train two of its Typhoon squadrons for both air and ground attack, with the remainder dedicated to air-to-air missions.--Stephen V Cole


August 10, 2000; The Joint Strike Fighter is regarded as the most logical successor to the EA-6B airborne jammer aircraft. What is unclear, however, is what kind of electronics it will carry. Modern electronics are advancing at a rapid pace, and it is unclear what kind of systems will be required even a few years from now. The new active electronically scanned array radars are composed of a thousand (or up to two thousand) small elements, each of which can operate separately. This gives such radars a huge advantage in that they can track targets at the same long range that they can scan for more targets. A single aircraft could track (and jam) dozens of enemy radars, both airborne and ground based. Raytheon has decided to provide its JSF with one radar antenna, which will be able to jam all of the radar frequencies used by lethal systems, including the latest Russian missiles. Raytheon's system will not jam the low-frequency early warning radars, which cannot attack the plane but might cue other radars to focus on it. Boeing proposed to provide its JSF with two separate radars, one of which could jam the fire control frequencies while the other jams the early warning frequencies. The only problem with this is the extra weight, electrical load, and cooling which the second radar will impose on the aircraft, which is already

 


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