Eurofighter Typhoon analysis

Eurofighter Typhoon analysis

Program history

Typhoon is a result of a programme to satisfy both German and UK Air Force requirements. In July 1979, air staff from UK, Germany and Italy initiated European Combat Fighter study. In April 1982, preliminary design of ACA (Agile Combat Aircraft) was known, though it had twin tail and cranked delta wing. In December 1983, France and Spain joined up, after which requirements for new 9,5 ton, twin-engined, single-seat, delta-canard fighter were outlined.

More than 25 000 simulations were conducted, aimed at arriving at optimum solution. Results were:

  • air attack does not replace air defense
  • only manned aircraft provide flexibility required for an air defence system
  • quantity cannot replace the quality
  • future air combat is not a stand-off problem, but is highly flexible; avionics and armaments cannot replace superb flight performance on their own
  • radar performance with long detection range, large field of view and multi-target capability is required
  • low observability within certain ranges is important
  • short range combat is dominated by highly unsteady maneuvers, rapidly changing load factors, shorter firing opportunities and smaller space envelopes ending in lower speeds
  • remotely piloted vehicles are not flexible enough and are very expensive

Other requirements were good maintainability and reliability, single seat, short turn-around time, low life-cycle costs, 6 000 hours life time, range of 550 kilometers and ability to take off and land on short runways. Radar was developed by Euroradar consortium.

But there were points of divergence: whereas Luftwaffe preferred weight of 8,5 tons, AdlA preferred 9-ton aircraft and RAF wanted 11-ton one. As a result, upper and lower weight were agreed upon. Soon, Dassault obtained contract to design a fighter with empty weight of 9,25 tons, whereas rest of consortium (BAe, MBB, Aeritalia and CASA) focused on aircraft with empty weight of 9,75 tons. By February 1985, both designs were presented, yet neither fulfilled European Staff Target requirements.

Reason for diverging ideas about weight were different requirements: France wanted export-friendly multirole aircraft, whereas Britain wanted longer-ranged aircraft, capable of reaching Central European battlefield from British Islands, as well as utilizing British engines. Further, it proved impossible to reach an agreement on who will exactly lead the project.

In August 1985, France decided to pursue its own programme after being denied lead in programme, and being only nation with requirement for a carrier capable aircraft.

In 1986, weapons systems companies that were taking part in the project formed joint management company Eurofighter GmbH, and engine companies formed Eurojet GmbH. In 1987, Chiefs of Staff of Air Forces of four countries developing fighter signed European Staff Requirement for Development (ERS-D) of the European Fighter Aircraft (EFA). Aircraft was to be optimised for air-to-air combat in both BVR and WVR regimes, with capability to perform Air Defence, Air Superiority, Offensive Counter Air, Air Interdiction, Offensive Air Support, Maritime Attack and Reconnaissance.

Engine designs were developed by Rolls-Royce and Snecma, both designs optimized for aircraft proposals of their respective countries. This paid off when France left the project to develop carrier-capable Rafale, utilizing Snecma’s engines. Development of EFA continued with original focus on air-to-air missions.

Production contracts were awarded as following: 33% to each Germany and UK, 21% to Italy and 13% to Spain. This corresponded to number of aircraft that were to be procured; out of total of 760 aircraft, UK and Germany each were to purchase 250, Italy was to purchase 160 aircraft and Spain 100.

In 1992, in light of changed political situation, review of the project was undertaken. Requirement document was completely reconfirmed, whereas industry stated that baseline Eurofighter is still the most cost-effective solution. In view of reduced threat, however, number of aircraft was reduced from 720 to 602.

Technical problems made it impossible to adhere to original timetable: first flight of a prototype, planned for 1991, took place in April 1994. In February 1992, Spain announced that it will only buy 87 instead of 100 aircraft, and Germany reduced its purchase to 140. Due to German reluctance, Eurofighter consortium undertook study on how to reduce Eurofighter’s unit price. This study was delivered to governments in October, after which UK signalled intention to continue with original programme, alone of needed, and suggested triliteral continuation of programme to Italy and Spain, after which Germany too decided to continue with project. Large part in force reductions was played by budget cuts following fall of Soviet Union.

In December 1993, governments agreed to continue the project, although with changes to overall configuration of the aircraft; consequently, project was renamed “Eurofighter 2000”. In April 1995, memorandum on dividing costs incurred due to redevelopment was signed.

Project was especially important for UK and Spain, which – unlike other countries – used project to develop military technology, contrary to current trend that military adapts technologies developed for civilian purposes.

In 2002, Austria became a procurement partner in programme, and first aircraft were delivered to Germany and Spain in 2003, with Italy receiveing first Typhoon in 2005. In 2007, multi-role Typhoons were delivered to the UK and Austria. In 2006, Saudi Arabia selected Typhoon, though only after forcing UK to cease investigation of bribery in Al Yamamah weapons deal between UK and Saudi Arabia. First Saudi Typhoon was delivered in 2009.


Eurofighter Typhoon is a relaxed-stability twin-engined tailless canard-delta design. Design requirements were subsonic, transsonic and supersonic agility. Aerodynamic instability results in decreased lift-dependent trim drag

Airframe is made with generous use of composites, titanium and aluminiom-lithium alloys (over 70%) in order to reduce weight. Side-effect of that is that it is more resistant to corrosion, and thus easier to maintain in humid environments. However, Typhoon is not suitable for the carrier aircraft due to the canard placement as well as structural reinforcements that would have to be done in order for airframe to withstand stresses of carrier operations.

Use of composites, as well as general shape, results in reduced frontal RCS. Aircraft also uses structural health monitoring and automatic equipment failure detection equipment.

Wings and canards

Typhoon’s canards (canard, fr. = duck) are very large and placed up front so as to minimze interaction with the wing; in essence, canards are performing the same function as tail does in tailed aircraft. Position results in minimal induced and trim drag, as well as minimal interaction with air intakes, which are mounted under fuselage to maximise air flow at high angles of attack, and is well suited for long-range supersonic aircraft. While close-coupled canard typically results in increased lift at higher angles of attack, effect is irrelevant at supersonic speeds. Eurofighter also stated that Typhoon’s high level of instability resulted in lift advantage due to close coupled canards being minor. As a control surface, long-arm canard is far more effective than either tail or close-coupled canard of similar size, as it offers faster control response due to longer moment arm, and if stall angle of canard is lower than that of the wing, aircraft is effectively stall-proof. As all positions other than low-and-forward and high-and-aft have been deemed aerodynamic disasters, low-position long-arm canard was eventually chosen.

Compared to tailed delta configuration, Typhoon’s configuration has the advantage of larger wing area (made possible by not using the horizontal tail surfaces) as well as the fact that canard actually adds lift during the turn, while tail detracts from the total lift. However, there is no interaction between canard and the wing, and as such wing has to rely solely on lift provided by vortices created by the wing itself during the high-alpha maneuvers. Leading-edge slats are used to improve aerodynamic wing lift during maneuvers. Canards are also more effective than the tail due to the longer moment arm they offer, thus requiring less force to achieve the same effect. At supersonic flight, chosen configuration has additional benefit compared to tailed delta: as it suffers smaller aerodynamic centre shift with Mach number, it has reduced trim drag, and there is no adverse tailplane/afterbody pressure drag interference. However, canards are inefficient as a roll control device, so wing has to be stiffer than in tailed delta configuration.

Wings are positioned low on the body, and are of normal delta shape with 53 degree sweep, cropped tips, offering large wing area and volume at light weight. This shape also causes creation of vortices even at relatively low angles of attack, increasing the avaliable lift beyond one caused by normal aerodynamic flow; as a result, stall angle of delta wing is higher than usual even without high-lift devices. Size of vortices increases with angle of attack. However, addition of LERX (for which there is enough space between wing leading edge and front end of intakes) would strenghten these vortices and cause a major improvement in Typhoon’s already good turn performance. Another importance of delta wing is in its dynamic vortex burst behavior; namely, a delta wing that is pitching up will produce vortex burst that lags behind when compared to wortex burst for same angle of attack under static conditions; result is higher instanteneous turn rate for delta wing. Amount of lag also increases as speed of pitch-up increases; result is that pitch-up condition creates major increase in lift compared to static condition. High drag, however, means that delta wing has lower lift-to-drag ratio than regular wings unless paired with high-lift devices such as close-coupled canards which increase lift for most given AoAs, but are absent from Typhoon. Wings also have high-lift devices in form of leading edge slats; these can be deployed to increase lift during takeoff and landing, and also during combat to prevent air flow separation at moderate angles of attack, though latter is not always done because of large increase in drag it causes. When deployed during maneuvers, they also improve directional stability. As tips are cropped, tip drag is lowered at high angles of attack. Large wing reduces aerodynamic effects of heavy external weapons stores, but also limits effectiveness of trailling-edge control surfaces. Additional effect is increased effectiveness of control surfaces as dynamic pressure increases, whereas in tailed aircraft, effectiveness is reduced with increase in dynamic pressure. Wings are also elastic, able to twist during maneuvers in order to prevent tip stall. However, fact that some control surfaces are at rear end of the wing limits their effectiveness at supersonic speeds, and delta wing itself restricts supersonic maneuverability by making aircraft stable. This in turn means that aft control surfaces no longer help the lift, as they do in unstable aircraft, but reduce the effective lift.

Low position of the wing results in better takeoff performance, better view from the cockpit, less induced drag, and less lateral stability compared to high position. Compared to mid position, however, it has more interference drag. It also results in 3-8 degrees of effective dihedral even before any actual anhedral/dihedral of the wing is considered.

Low wing loading and large amount of vortex lift result in good instantenenous and sustained turn rates, shorter takeoff distance, but also in bad low-altitude performance, making it obvious that aircraft is designed as air superiority platform.

Both wings and canards are swept back and sized so as not to enter shock wave cone.


On both sides of the fuselage, Typhoon has vortice generators, used to create fuselage lift at high AoA.

Intakes are two-dimensional and placed under the hull, in a fashion similar to the F-16. That arrangement has the advantage of fuselage serving as the air flow straightener, improving air flow into the engine during high-alpha maneuvers and thus preventing loss of thrust. Intakes are also distanced from the fuselage, preventing ingestion of turbulent, low-energy boundary layer air, which would reduce engine efficiency. Due to their position however, they are subject to magnified side-slip effects.

Intakes have lips which are used to affect flow of the air into them, additionally improving intake of air at high angles of attack, as well as adjusting amount of air influx depending on the current speed, thus ensuring optimum engine performance over very wide flight envelope. These lips, however, add to the mechanical complexity. Air ducts themselves are curved, which serves dual purpose of reducing frontal RCS, as well as causing a series of shock waves to slow down air flow to subsonic speeds during supersonic flight – that slowdown being a requirement for engine operation at supersonic speeds. Additional shock is caused by diverter plate above intakes.

As intakes are designed for a supersonic performance, sidewalls and lip tips are not sufficiently blunt to significantly delay air flow separation; as a result, air flow losses increase sharply after passing 30 degrees of alpha. At 70 degrees, losses can be as high as 20%.

Design of cockpit and fuselage in general provides a very good visibility for the pilot, even to the rear. However, nose shape and large canards placed up-front mean that lookdown capability is somewhat limited, thus making carrier variant of the aircraft unlikely.

There are four semi-conformal stations for BVR missiles on the fuselage; however, there are no wingtip stations for WVR missiles, as wing tips are taken up by defensive aids subsystems. There is total of 12 weapons stations capable of carrying missiles, with centerline station being used for fuel tank.


While an all-moving fin was considered, standard fin was chosen to save weight despite the reduction in the control power. As aircraft bank, using lift from wings and not tail input for turning, reduction in control power of the fin is mostly inconsequential for dogfight. However, fin is still important for supersonic maneuvering; as a result, it is very large. Too large vertical fin can result in problems if roll is experienced, causing aircraft to enter sideslip in direction of the roll, and start spiralling to the ground; too small fin can result in Dutch roll, which while not inherently dangerous does result in reduced performance.

Typhoon’s fin is sized for directional control at Mach 2.


Engines are Eurojet EJ-200 turbofan engines, and were specifically designed for high thrust and fast reactions. They allow aircraft to reach top speed of Mach 2, and also allow for supercruise of Mach 1,4 when clean, or Mach 1,2 in air-to-air configuration. Combination of strong engine, low wing loading and long arm canards means that Typhoon is able to take off with 700 meter runway.

Each engine produces 60 kN of dry thrust and 90 kN of thrust in afterburner at peacetime setting, with wartime setting being 69 kN dry and 95 kN in afterburner. Specific fuel consumption is 21-23 g/kNs in dry thrust and 47-49 g/kNs in afterburner. As Typhoon has 4 500 kg of fuel, this allows for 8,5 minutes of afterburning thrust.

Landing gear

Typhoon uses tricycle landing gear, with two wheels aft and one forward, which results in stress due to landing being better distributed.

Situational Awareness


Canopy is of bubble shape with bow frame. While bow frame does limit forward visibility, it leaves rear hemisphere completely unobstructed. This shape allows for very good visibility from cockpit, which is crucial for dogfight.


Most useful sensor for detecting enemy aircraft in combat environment is definetly IRST. As IRST is passive, it cannot be jammed or detected by the opponent, providing unparalelled tactical advantage. Image from IRST can be overlayed on both HMS and HUD.

Typhoon’s PIRATE IRST can detect subsonic fighter aircraft, head-on, from distance of at least 90 kilometers, and at least 145 kilometers from the rear. Identification can be done at 40 kilometers, which is slightly beyond visual range. (All values are, however, for optimal conditions).

In terms of mission profiles, it is able to perform target acquisition and identification, as well as allow for low level night flight.


Current Typhoon’s radar is a mechanically scanned pulse doppler radar. Developed as ECR-90, and renamed into CAPTOR, it operates in X band, and weights 193 kilograms. Operating modes are long range air-to-air (BVR), close range visual (WVR) and air-to-surface. It has track while scan ability, and can be slaved directly to HMD. Detection range against 5 m2 targets is over 160 kilometers.

Defensive systems

Defensive system – DASS/Praetorian – is housed internally. It allows fully autimatized prioritisation of threats as well as response to said threats, with manual override being avaliable.

It has electronic support measures, radar warner, laser warner, active missile approach warner, DRFM jammer, two towed decoys, chaff, flares. Jamming pod and towed decoy are housed on the wing tips.

Radar and laser warner allow passive Typhoon to detect active fighter from longer distance than active aircraft can detect it, and as such provide a large situation awareness advantage.

Missile Approach Warner gives 360*360 degree situational awareness.



Typhoon’s gun is Mauser BK-27, a 27-milimeter gas operated revolver cannon developed in late 1960s for Panavia Tornado. It fires 27×114 mm high explosive shells at 1700 rounds per minute. Standard loadout of 150 shells allows for 5,3 seconds of continuous firing. Being a revolver cannon, it reaches full rate of fire in around 0,05 seconds, compared to 0,5 seconds for a typical Gattling design. Relatively heavy 260 g shell is also very destructive, an important aspect due to high structural strength of modern fighter aircraft. Impact fuse operates to 85 degrees of impact angle.


Typhoon’s primary WVR missiles are IRIS-T and AIM-132 ASRAAM. IRIS-T is short-range IR missile equipped with thrust vectoring. It is capable of engaging targets at any angle around aircraft, even those that are directly behind, due to its lock on after launch capability; lock-on before launch capability is also present. Fuze is radar proximity based, and seeker is roll-pitch infrared imaging seeker with 128*128 resolution and +-90* look angle for high-off-boresight engagement capability. Using imaging technology makes it resistant to flares (but not to jamming). Target can be designated by either radar or pilots’ helmet mounted sight, and IRIS-T offers 360 degree defense capability. Maximum intercept range is 25 kilometers, speed is Mach 3 and it can pull 60 g turns. Missile is propelled by a solid propellant motor.

Aside from already described, IRIS-T has one ace up the sleeve; namely, ability to destroy incoming missiles, both air-to-air and surface-to-air ones. While this is definetly not a foolproof system, and it is impossible to predict how well it will work, if it does work it can reduce number of BVR missiles aircraft has to contend with, but also most likely force pilot to engage enemy with gun.

Development of IRIS-T started after Cold War, when evaluation of systems in MiG-29 revealed multiple aspects in which Russian AA-11 was superior to US Sidewinder, then in use in Luftwaffe. At the same time, extensive air combat simulations showed that far more targets will enter short range of 500 to 5000 meters than previously assumed.

IRIS-T concept was presented in 1995, and development started in 1996 under German leadership. Germany also absorbed 45% of total development costs of 300 million Euros, or 135 million Euros. Partner nations were Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Canada and Spain, with Diehl BGT Defence assuming overall responsibility. Missile entered service in December 2005.

During testing, IRIS-T achieved a direct hit against target with infrared countermeasures; I have not found data about nature of countermeasures in question.

AIM-132 ASRAAM is, when compared to IRIS-T, longer-ranged but less agile, being able to pull 50 g turns, reach range of 50 kilometers and speed of Mach 3. Minimum range is 300 meters.

Development of ASRAAM started in 1980s as a joint project between UK and Germany. Unlike with IRIS-T, ASRAAM was not intended as a highly maneuverable missile, as its main purpose was to bridge gap between AIM-120 and Sidewinder. As such, ASRAAM did not use thrust vectoring technology, putting emphasis instead on high velocity and increased range.

In 1990, however, reunification of Germany gave a Luftwaffe look at Russian short-ranged Vympel R-73. It proved to be more dangerous missile than previously anticipated, outperforming Western IR missiles by wide margin in every category save for range. Germany consequently (and correctly) decided that AIM-132 performance is lacking, and decided to develop IRIS-T.

After that, UK looked for a new seeker, selecting Hughes infrared imaging seeker, same one as used in AIM-9X. Seeker has high off-boresight capability of +-90 degrees and lock on after launch capability.

Typhoon’s primary BVR missile is MBDA Meteor, which is not yet in service. It is able to reach range of over 100/150 kilometers and speed of over Mach 4. It can be guided by its launch platform, another fighter aircraft or even AEW&C platform.

Two intakes at each side of lower body are designed to reduce missile’s radar cross section. However, these may limit missile’s maneuvering capability.

Aside from these, Typhoon is capable of carrying US-designed AIM-9X WVRAAM and AIM-120 BVRAAM. AIM-9X Sidewinder has minimum range of under 1 kilometers and maximum range of 35,4 kilometers. It is capable of reaching Mach 4, and can pull maximum of 50 g. AIM-120D AMRAAM has minimum range of 900 meters, maximum range of 110/160 kilometers and speed of Mach 4; however, Typhoon is more likely to use AIM-120C-5 which has same speed but maximum range of 75/105 kilometers.

It should be noted that ranges given are maximum ones in ideal position: at high altitude, with enemy aircraft coming head on. At low altitude, range is 1/5 of that at high altitude, and range against aircraft in flight is 1/4 of that against aircraft in attack. Also, while it can be safely assumed that IR missiles can be released at 9 g turns, such limits are not so clear for BVR missiles.

Air-to-ground weapons

Typhoon is capable of using variety of air-to-ground weapons, ranging from bombs to cruise missiles. Precision weapons are laser-guided Paveway bomb, GPS guided JDAM bomb, Storm Shadow cruise missile, Taurus cruise missile, ALARM anti-radiation missile, HARM anti-radiation missile, Brimstone anti-armor missile, BL-755 cluster bomb, Harpoon anti-ship missile, and Penguin anti-ship missile; in future it could use DWS-39 cluster submunitions dispenser missile.

Paveway “bomb” is actually entire series of guidance kits for GBU bombs developed in the United States, and Paveway bombs are actually already existing weapons fitted with Paveway guidance kits. Bombs weight 113, 227, 454 and 907 kilograms, and are used for attacks on both soft and hard targets. Similarly, JDAM is GPS guidance kit for bombs of 924, 959 and 459 kg. JDAM kit costs 20 000 USD, and consists of aerodynamic control and stability surfaces, as well as onboard computer attacked to the Inertial Measurement Unit; IMU is updated regularly through GPS. Once the bomb is launches, it takes around 30 seconds for GPS to get a fix on its exact location.

First test drop of Paveway occured in 1965, and was first used operationally over Vietnam in 1968, where it achieved successes. In 1972, Paveway II follow-up program started. Paveway kit had bang-bang guidance system, which means that control surfaces are either fully deflected or not at all; this was finally upgraded in Paveway III, which also enabled attacks from low altitude. Paveway bombs come in general purpose, demolition and cluster variants.

Storm Shadow is fire-and-forget air-launched cruise missile. It has reduced RCS and range of 250-400 kilometers, flying at Mach 0,8. Missile weights 1300 kg with 450 kg BROACH warhead that consists of penetrating charge, used to clear soil, and a delayed-fuze main warhead. It is fire-and-forget missile, and once launched, is fully autonomous. Attack on target is done in “climb then dive” pattern to achieve best penetration. Missile is optimized for pre-planned attacks on static targets, and uses passive imaging infrared sensor with autonomous target recognition capability. At terminal phase of flight missile climbs, ejects the ballistic cap allowing its IR seeker to acquire the target, and descends towards target, constantly redefining the aim point. If attack is aborted, or target cannot be acquired/identified, missile flies to a predetermined crash site.

Taurus KEPD 350 is air-launched cruise missile developed in partnership between LFK and Saab Bofors Dynamics. It can reach over 500 kilometers at maximum speed of Mach 0,8-0,9. Double 500 kg warhead, called Mephisto, consists of precharge and initial penetrating charge to clear soil and enter a bunker, and a main warhead with variable delay fuze. Missile can be used for attacks against static targets and ships, and includes self-defense countermeasures. Flight path is programmed before use by mission planners, based on data on enemy air defenses. Missile is typically GPS guided, though it can navigate long distances without GPS support thanks to INS (Inertial Navigation System), IBN (Image Based Navigation) and TRN (Terrain Referenced Navigation) systems. Like with Storm Shadow, attack is of climb-and-dive nature, and high-resolution IR camera, used to help navigation, can also be used to help targeting.

ALARM is British anti-radiation missile used primarly for SEAD. It is 4,3 meters long, has wing span of 0,72 meters, diameter of 0,244 meters and weights 265 kg at launch. Seeker is wideband RF antenna, which according to Jane’s consists of four antennas forming a fixed two-axis interferometer with lower mid-band to high-band coverage. Seeker is programmed to select highest-value secondary target should primary target go offline. Warhed is a heavy metal (probably Tungsten) casing blast fragmentation device, designed to produce high-velocity fragments which perforate antenna and any supporting electronics. Tail section houses two-stage parachute used for loitering modes, allowing missile to stay in the air for extended periods of time, forcing SAMs in the area to stay off-line. When loitering, missile climbs to altitude of 13 kilometers before activating parachute. Missile homes on to radar’s side lobes, and seeker typically knows type of target it is attacking, allowing warhead to go off at optimum altitude from target.

ALARM has five operating modes. First three, used when location of emitter is known, are direct mode, in which missile directly attacks nearest active target; loiter mode, in which missile loiters with parachute above nearest known target, forcing target – and any nearby – to stay offline; dual mode, in which missile flies in attack mode towards designated target, but switches to loiter mode should target go offline. Remaining two, used when location of emitter is not known prior to launch, or when missiles are used against mobile SAMs, are Corridor/Aera supression mode, in which missile climbs steeply from low launch altitude and then coasts in shallow dive, waiting for targets to come on-line. Universal Mode is similar, but is used for high- to medium- -altitude launches, providing better range and larger search pattern.

Missile can be programmed on the ground, or just prior to the launch. It is launched directly from the rail, in a similar fashion to Sidewinder, and has range of over 90 kilometers.

AGM-88 HARM is US anti-radiation missile which uses dual-thrust rocket motor. It weights 360 kg at launch and has range of over 46 kilometers; seeker is a broadband spiral antenna. Once launched, it can operate in one of three modes: preemptive, missile-as-sensor and self-protect.

In preemptive mode, missile is fired before locking on a target; RWRs can then be used to locate threat radars. Advanced HDAM version has GPS/INS guidance, which can be used to restrict missile to engaging targets in certain area. Further, seeker is able to recognise pulse repetition frequencies of threat radars, allowing it to select a specific radar operating in any single band.

Brimstone is UK dual mode radar/laser-guided ground attack missile. It is used against armored targets, and uses millimeter-wave radar for target acquisition, which can be programmed to only activate after passing a certain point, so as to minimise potential for friendly fire. Missile uses dual warhead, with first warhead eliminating reactive armor and primary warhead penetrating main armor of the vehicle. It can be used in both direct and indirect mode; in former, aircraft’s own sensors are used to designate targets.

It is a fire-and-forget weapon, and is programmable to adapt to specific mission environments, including ability to find targets within a certain area or to self-destruct if targets cannot be found. Several missiles can be fired in a salvo against multiple targets. Missile weights 48,5 kg with 300 g precursor warhead and 6,2 kg main warhead. It is 1,8 meters long. Radar seeker operates at near-optical wavelengths, theoretically allowing for target recognition.

BL-755 cluster bomb is primarly used against armored vehicles, with other vehicles and personnell being a secondary target. It weights 264 kg, has shaped charge HEAT warhead and can produce over 200 000 fragments. Payload consists of 147 bomblets in 7 containers, each containg 7 sections with 3 bomblets each.

DWS-90 / BK90 is gliding stand-off cluster bomb (submunitions dispenser). It contains 72 bomblets, and like BL-755 is banned in multiple countries due to submunitions being a threat long after the combat stopped, thus violating Geneva conventions (submunitions released from US cluster bombs during Vietnam war are still killing civillians). It is not yet integrated on Typhoon.

AGM-84 Harpoon is anti-ship sea-skimming missile with active radar seeker. It weights 526 kg, with 221 kg warhead, and can reach range of over 124 kilometers, speed of 850 kph and maximum altitude of 910 meters. Length of air-launched Block II Harpoon is 3,84 meters. Guidance system is GPS-aided inertial navigation system.

Penguin missile is a littoral anti-ship missile developed by Norway with financial support by US and West Germany. It was first NATO anti-ship missile with IR seeker for terminal guidance (pre-terminal guidance is inertial). Mk 3 version is 370 kg heavy, 3,2 meters long with 120 kg warhead and range of 55 km using solid fuel. It can follow a waypoint flight path.


Flyaway cost per aircraft was stated in 2002 to be 60 million Euros per aircraft, or 63 million then-year USD. When corrected for inflation, resultant value would be 80,46 million USD in 2012 USD. However, current unit flyaway cost seems to be between 100 and 125 million USD, depending on version. Unit procurement cost is 144 to 199 million USD, depending on Tranche.

Jane’s has stated that operating cost per hour is 18 000 USD. This, while higher than Rafale’s 16 500 USD, is identical to F-18s cost of 18 000 USD per hour and lower than F-15s 30 000 USD per hour or F-35s likely 48 800 USD per hour.

Tactical analysis

Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly maneuverable fighter, with low wing loading and high thrust-to-weight ratios, as well as good weapons and cockpit visibility. Its usage of revolver cannon and external missile carriage allow pilot to exploit fleeting firing opportunities whereas good rearward visibility allows him to avoid being ambushed from the rear.

However, its fuel fraction is too low for combat-useful supercruising performance, and it is heavier than Rafale or Gripen, which does hurt its maneuvering performance. There is also rather large tactical deadweight in the nose.

Strategic analysis

Typhoon definetly isn’t cheap fighter; with flyaway cost above 100 million USD and maintenance cost per flight hour of 18 000 USD it is most expensive modern fighter aircraft in Europe, unless F-35 (which is actually a ground attack aircraft, and is not yet in service) is counted. Thus it is questionable wether it can provide required force presence in case of a major war.

Further, it is limited to large, visible and vulnerable concrete runways. This means that it is in danger of both being attacked on the ground, attacked at takeoff/landing or being grounded by destroyed air strip. Maintenance is also more complex than that of SAABs Gripen.

Comparision with other fighters

Dassault Rafale

Dassault Rafale is Typhoon’s primary competitor. While some hold Rafale to be primarly a bomber and not an air superiority aircraft, that is wrong as Rafale has all characteristics of fighter aircraft: low wing loading, high thrust-to-weight ratio, high structural g load and good cockpit visibility. Rafale also has higher fuel fraction than Typhoon, allowing it greater endurance, and higher structural load factor. Other advantages are lower wing loading at 50% fuel and lower drag when turning, provided by cleaner aerodynamics and close-coupled canards. Typhoon does have higher thrust-to-weight ratio, reducing Rafale’s advantage due to lower drag.


F-35 is a radar LO strike aircraft, made obvious by its fat shape, bad rearward cockpit visibility, high wing loading and low thrust-to-weight ratio. Its aerodynamics also mean that it has less vortex lift and less body lift avaliable when turning, excaberating the problem and giving it far worse lift-to-drag and lift-to-weight ratios than those of Typhoon.

Its internal weapons carriage does give it some drag reduction, which is easily offset by increased weight, complexity and reduced payload. Weapons payload in aerodynamically clean air-to-air configuration is identical, with both fighters having 4 BVRAAMs, but Typhoon’s conformal carriage provides it with faster response time as F-35 has to open doors to fire missiles. Similar situation is with guns: whereas F-35s GAU-22/A has a higher rate of fire, 3 300 rounds per minute when compared to 1 700 for BK-27, weight “thrown” by both guns is 7,4 kg per second for BK-27 and 10,12 kg for GAU-22/A. But while BK-27 reaches full rate of fire within 0,05 seconds, GAU-22/A reaches it 0,4 seconds. Thus even assuming that F-35 pilot opened gun doors beforehand, BK-27 would have fired 13 rounds weighting 3,38 kg in first half of second, compared to 16 rounds weighting 3,44 kg for GAU-22/A. If pilot did not open gun doors, then GAU-22/A will only start firing in 0,5 seconds, and reach full rate of fire in 0,9 seconds.

Where air-to-air is concerned, Typhoon also has advantage in sensors department; while F-35s IRST is only optimized for ground targets, Typhoon’s PIRATE’s position and wavelengths are optimised for air-to-air combat. F-35 itself has huge IR signature thanks to its fat shape and a powerful engine which has 7% more thrust than Typhoon’s two engines combined, yet has almost no IR reduction measures.


As can be seen, Typhoon is a very capable aircraft. However, it is also costly and cannot provide very large battlefield presence. Thus, it should be complemented by the cheaper aircraft, such as Saab Gripen A/C or F-16A, albeit aircraft in question should be equipped with QWIP IRST and DRFM jammers.


45 thoughts on “Eurofighter Typhoon analysis

  1. Good analysis, but I have a few questions for you:

    Why do you set the EJ200 thrust to 89/90kn max? The eurojet homepage states 60/90 kn (dry/wet), and some sources ( [] or []) give 60/90 kn standard and 69/95 kn for war setting with 102 kn emergency.
    Even when repeating it one thousand times: The internal fuel load is 4.996 kg / 6.215 Liter (one seater) and 4.300 kg / 5349 Liter (two seater). You may send an E-mail to if you don’t believe it. Where did you get the 4500 kg figure from? EFA?
    The top speed is correctly cited with M2, but unrealistic. DA2 passed Mach 2 at the 23th of December 1997 with the RB199 Mk.104E engines. The topspeed is mostly given as 2495 km/h, which is mach 2,35 at altitude. Otherwise Rafale’s topspeed of 1.915 km/h would be Mach 1,6 and not Mach 1,8 …..

    although, thanks for your effort for this blog. It is quite necessary, given this fifth-generation-bullshit from the us and their dominance in the defence media. It is interesting to see, that reason in air combat issues is becoming some sort of grasroots movement, to bypass the dominance of the us MIC in defence issues. The “gripen4canada” blog is a good example.


    1. According to my info, 89 kN is maximum peace-time setting to reduce engine wear, in case of war it will be reset to 90 kN. 60 kN is dry thrust in both settings.
      Typhoon uses EJ-200, not RB-199. RAF also puts maximum speed as M 1,8:
      whereas Eurofighter states that maximum speed is M 2:
      I don’t think either one of them lies, but Mach 2 is sprint speed whereas M 1,8 is sustainable speed.


      1. Thanks for your reply

        where do you have your info from?
        I know. But that’s the point. DA2 passed Mach 2 at the 23th of December 1997 with the RB199 Mk.104E engines, which had ca 75 kN wet each. With the EJ200’s 90 kN each, the top speed must be higher. As I calculated here (, with 60 kN for M1,5 (supercruise clean, official, EJ200) and 75 kN for M2 (DA2 aircraft, RB199E) and 90 kN for M2,35 (austrian air force, official, EJ200), all fit well in the thrust-drag-inlet-interpolation.

        BTW, on “war setting” a clean supercruise speed of M1,8 can be calculated, which is interesting, because it matches “upper class” F22 and MIG MFI concepts.

        Best regards, Segelboot


  2. Hi Picard!

    First of all:Thank you very much for the article, it is a quite well summarize to the fighter and it is nice to read.
    But I have to agree to Segelboot: 89kn wet was for the MK 100 version, the current MK 101 has 90 kn and in war setting, they generate 69kn dry/ 95 kn wet. (last textblock)
    And the homepage of the austrian Bundesheer also states Mach 2,35 (2400km/h) top speed (maybe the RAF uses different FADEC settings?).
    As far as I know, the range of the Captor was 160km+ for tracking and indentification of a MiG 29/F4F-seized target. The detection range is still a secret (and, as you know, a subject of many discussions).

    With best regards, Dennis


  3. Well, I am not sure about that. The standard setting of the engines has its origins in Germany, which wanted an enhanced lifespan of 6000 hours for both airframe and engines. I would guess, that the lower speed might be linked to a lower airframe stress or so… But honestly, I don´t have any source available which would explain why.


  4. Hi Picard…you forgot to state te main reason for France leaving the Eurofighter:they wanthed to delay deliveries until late 1990s early 2000s to keep mirage 2000 sales up….:) source-«An ilustrated guide to future fighters and combat aircraft» by bill gunston…he gess it before we all do in 1984…lol


    1. It’s good, but there are few things that should be elaborated on:

      1) as author mentioned, more powerful radar makes it easier for enemy to detect yourself; since detection formula is range squared, RWR will detect you at 4 times the distance your radar can detect its own return signals; since large part of signal is redirected away from emitter once it reflects from other aircraft, actual difference is even greater. AESA LPI mode does reduce that range somewhat, but physics still get in way (signal has to be strong enough to be detected by its own radar) and detection range advantage is still with RWR. Of course, lower RCS will mean greater advantage for RWR, so some RCS reduction measures are desireable, but not if they harm other aspects (maneuverability, force size, reliability). This is one of reasons for development of IRST, as detecting enemy first with active sensor is oxymoron.

      2) PIRATEs ability to operate in two wavelength spectrums is not simply for reliability, but also (or primarly) for performance; for AtG work, one set of walenegths is more desireable, for air-to-air, another. Also, shorter wavelengths are better for low range, whereas longer wavelengths are better for long range.

      3) Typhoon’s low-speed and high AoA performance, while still good, are somewhat inferior to Gripen and Rafale; reason for that is Typhoon’s focus on supersonic BVR interception.


  5. 1) Yeah, I also remembered that when I read the article. I guess the metaphor of the flashlight in the dark and the enemy who sits in the bush and sees it way before the cone of light lights him up may fit very well to this fact… Since a low rcs is -in relation to an all around balanced desingn- always a nice achievement, I read that russian scientists estamited the rcs of an F22 and the Suchio T50 to be somewhere at 0.3-0.5sqm (not mentioned on which angle). And concerning the EF, there is also the argument that it is not an “all around” radar low observability design, but quite good in those matters from the front cone (highly swept wing, RAM on the wing leading edges, mostly made of composite materials…) . So who knows, how big the difference really is?

    3) I heard the max. AoA was 70° for an EF but just during tests (though not mentioned in which envelopes), 50° for the Griffin (standard max. limit) and 120° (!) for the Rafale during the test phase… I think this supports your statement, right?

    —> The part concerning the MAWS attracted most of my interest: The author stated, that the EF uses a kind of high frequency radar for the necessarily high resolution against small objects like missles. It´s also known, that DASS is able to provide accucate data, so that ASRAAM and Iris-T can be used as hard-kill systems. Since stealth coatings are said to be not efficent against high-frequency radars and EF was (due to the article) able to detect missles 100km away, the MAWS seems to be a choice against LO airframes (at least in theory, since this radar will be passively detectable aswell).


    1. 1) Yes, that is appropriate metaphor. As for RCS, standard given RCS is nose one. F-22s is generally given as between 0,0001 and 0,0014 m2, but I have also heard that it might be in class of F-117, which would be 0,1 – 1 m2.

      3) EF achieved maximum AoA of 70 degrees during tests but is normally limited to maybe 50 degrees. Gripen is also limited to 50 degrees, but maximum angle of attack achieved during tests was between 100 and 110 degrees. Figure for Rafale is correct, from what I know. Which really makes you wonder why people make fuss of F-35s 50 degrees.

      4) Typhoon’s MAWS is indeed radar-based, and I know that IRIS-T can be used as hard-kill system (not sure about ASRAAM).


      1. Concerning the F35, LM seems to offer a fighter design, which was estamited too cheaply from the outset. I mean, at least in europe (and the US), it´s a quite common behavior to start defence projects well under price. Later on, there “suddenly appear” cost overruns, may it be, because subsystems are more difficult to develop, may it be due to misengeneering… Well examples for the first phenomenom are the EF itself and (in a stronger fashion relative to the total amount of money) the F22, which was planned to field HMS, side-directed radar arrays and FLIR. An example for the other reason are the german K130 corvettes, which were planned to enter service in 2007 and actually entered service a few month ago, due to shortfalls in the electronics and the gear (the german DoD contracted a swiss company, which never before built gears for ships…).
        And those factors plus the economical crisis influence the Joint Strike Fighter programme now. But there are also people like Winslow T. Wheeler and Pierre Sprey, who are known to be competent aeronautic experts. And they explain, that dogfight isn´t out of today´s fighter business, but still important (as you say, too).
        I guess, that´s the reason LM publishing reports about F35´s “outstanding” maneuverability. And the citizen´s attitude towards those projects have to be aken into account. If a nations gouvernment decides to opt out (due to public pressure), LM looses contacts (as might already happen in Canada).

        BTW: I just read, EF´s max. AoA was limited to 35°. Where do you get 50° from?


      2. Well, yes, Lockheed Martin is using reports of F-35s “outstanding” AoA capability and SA to fool people who understand that these two abilities are, on their own, worthless. In fact, you want to pull as low AoA for a given turn rate/diameter as possible in order to minimize drag – F-35 may have internal weapons, but Rafale and Gripen need lower angle of attack to achieve same lift-to-weight and turn rate values (even if you forget difference in wing loading and body shape, close coupled canards have such effect) which means lower drag. And their maximum AoA is far higher.

        I believe that 50° was stated in connection to race in India, but when I checked it yes, it does seem that 30-35 degrees is standard setting for both, which is actually more logical than 50 degrees as AoA in excess of 35 degrees are unsustainable due to drag. You could use them in combat, but only as a last ditch maneuver.


  6. First of all I want to say fantastic blog!
    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear
    your head prior to writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Kudos!


    1. First, don’t hurry. Second, take a look at what article is about and what is relevant for it; then you can make rough outline of what structure of your article will be (to use this article as example, first thing I did was to write down structure of article – titles and subtitles – andd then I filled data in appropriate sections). Third, start writing, section by section. You can also write a quick sketch first and then expand upon it.


      1. Well, the 70 kN refers to the war setting (as I stated before). The picture was published on an official website of the Luftwaffe, therefore I would say, it has the same degree of confidence like the producer´s website. The problem is: Most websites don´t state the war setting (and real max. power output).


  7. Its such as you read my thoughts! You seem to grasp so much approximately this,
    like you wrote the guide in it or something. I feel that you could do
    with some p.c. to drive the message home a little bit,
    but other than that, this is great blog. An excellent read.
    I will certainly be back.


  8. When I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on
    whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment.
    Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service?


  9. Do you have a bibliography for the article? I’m especially curious about the 25,000 simulations you talk about at the beginning. If the results truly came up as you describe by bullet points, then guess what, Pierre Sprey and all other critics of stealth have been right all along. That’s why I’d love to see the sources if you can share please. Thanks.


    1. I didn’t write down the sources if you ask that, I still have documents I used but I used 100 different documents if not more for writing the article. As for the specific document you are asking about, it is “Eurofighter technology for the 21st century” by Erwin Obermeier and Bob Haslam.


  10. “Each engine produces 60 kN of dry thrust and 90 kN of thrust in afterburner at peacetime setting, with wartime setting being 69 kN dry and 95 kN in afterburner. Specific fuel consumption is 21-23 g/kNs in dry thrust and 47-49 g/kNs in afterburner. As Typhoon has 4 500 kg of fuel, this allows for 17-18 minutes of afterburning thrust.”

    The Typhoon has two Eurojet EJ-200 engines (fuel consumption is therefore 2x 47-49 g/kNs in afterburner), this allows for only nearly 9 minutes with afterburning thrust or am I missing something?


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