At Aero India 2011 Eurofighter and partner company BAE Systems unveiled for the first time more details about the studies carried out for the initial definition of the navalised version of the Typhoon.
These studies have included the assessment of required design changes, piloted simulations to refine the aircraft's handling qualities and discussions with key suppliers. The studies indicate that these changes are feasible, and would lead to the development of a world-beating, carrier-based fighter aircraft.
The most important element of the navalised Typhoon is that its exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio allows the aircraft to take off from a carrier without using a catapult but with a simple and much cheaper "ski-jump". Detailed simulations have shown that the aircraft will be able to take off and land in this way with a full weapon and fuel load - providing a truly potent and flexible naval aviation capability.
The basic design of Typhoon helps to minimise the modifications needed to allow a Typhoon to conduct naval operations from a carrier. The aircraft's structure is exceptionally strong, having been designed from the outset for the high dynamic loads associated with extreme air combat manoeuvring. The modifications required are limited and include a new, stronger landing gear, a modified arrestor hook and localised strengthening on some fuselage sections near the landing gear, as well as updates the EJ200 engines.
To reduce the aircraft's approach speed and the resulting landing loads the study envisages the introduction of a thrust-vectored variant of the Eurojet EJ200 engine. Thrust vectoring (Engines with TVN have already undergone factory testing in the Eurojet facility) could be fully integrated into Typhoon's advanced Flight Control System (FCS), allowing the pilot to focus on flying the approach path while the FCS manages the engine nozzle position. The ability to change the angle of the engines' thrust will allow for a further enhancement in Typhoon's already outstanding manoeuvrability, supercruise performance, fuel consumption and the handling of asymmetric weapon configurations.
A key design driver for navalised Typhoon is the commonality at 95 per cent with the land variant. Design changes are minimised, allowing for most of the spare parts and test equipment to be shared across a customer's air force and navy fleets. The sensors, systems and weapons available to both variants will be common, allowing for a reduction in the aircrew training requirements. And in addition, the two variants will benefit from a common upgrade path - new capabilities will be available to both the air force and navy in similar timescales.
A navalised Typhoon can deliver this commonality, without compromising on capability.
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