The Eurofighter 2000 is a multi-role aircraft optimised for the air combat role. To this end a diverse range of weapons systems can be fitted to the aircraft.
As with all of Eurofighter's systems the weapons release functions are highly integrated. The weapons themselves are monitored, selected and armed by the Armament Control System (ACS). The ACS itself comprises essentially two systems, the weapon pylons/points and a set of on-board computers. Given data (target information and weapon release calculations) from the AIS the ACS can automatically select the appropriate weapon for a given target or target list. The weapons can then be cued using data (again) supplied by the AIS. The ACS also handles (through the weapons pylons or mounting points) the arming, release or jettisoning of all weaponry. In addition through the use of standard, MIL-STD-1553B and -1760 digital weapons databuses it is possible to monitor the status of all attached ordnance. The use of this particular bus also allows new weaponry (conforming to the same interface standard) to be integrated relatively speedily, often through simple software upgrades. Any critical data from the ACS (active weapon and weapon status for example) can be monitored full time on the HUD and HMS. In addition the ACS offers stores information output to any one of the Multifunction Head Down Displays (MHDD).
During the Vietnam War an important lesson was learned. Even though new AA missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder seemed to promise the end of air based gun battles it was quickly realised this simply was not true. Many F-4 Phantoms were lost simply because they could not defend themselves once their missile load had been dispensed. To this end even 4th generation aircraft like the Typhoon, Rafale and F-22A still feature guns.
The Typhoon is equipped with a single MauserWerke GmbH developed BK-27 cannon mounted internally in the fuselage forward of the starboard wing. The Mauser cannon is becoming a standard weapon for European airforces, it equips among other aircraft the Panavia Tornado, Alpha-jet blister pods and SAAB/BAe Gripen. It utilises 27mm high explosive shells with a maximum firing rate of some 1700 rounds a minute, each aircraft will likely carry approximately 150 rounds. Several different types of shell are available. All ammunition types have the same internal and external ballistic behavior, which means the sights do not have to be adjusted for each type.
At only 100kg this cannon offers a significant firing velocity combined with a relatively large shell, it compares extremely favourably with its counterparts. When compared to the U.S. M-61 with a rate of fire of 6000 shells per minute, the BK-27 seems outclassed with a low 1700 shells per minute. However looks can be deceptive, while the M-61 takes almost a second to reach its full firing rate the BK-27's is almost instantaneous. The Mauser will have fired over 4kg of projectiles in 0.5 seconds while the M-61 scores around 2kg. The M-61 will only exceed the BK-27 after a full second of firing, by which time the target may well have moved.
The system itself is relativley compact and extremely robust with a proven in service Mean Rounds Between Failure (MRBF) of over 23,000, the MRBF for the unit plus ammunition is over 14,000. In addition the manufacturer also claims the gun, with a projectile weight of 260g and a fuse function to 85° impact angle out performs all other lightweight fighter cannon systems. The particular install being used for Eurofighter features a new linkless closed ammunition feed system with case recovery. This is a first with a revolver gun and provides a 60% reduction in the volume of installed ammunition.
As with the external weapon loads, targeting of the cannon is done through the HUD. When the cannon is selected a firing predictor is projected onto the Head Up display. This depicts a moving line, or snake which predicts where the next few rounds of cannon fire will go. The system also incorporates auto-fire, whereby a burst of fire can be automatically engaged when the target passes through the sight.
In May 2000 the British MoD announced that Tranche-2 and 3 Eurofighter's in RAF service will not be fitted with any cannon whatsoever, while Tranche-1 cannons would not be utilised. The recommendation for this was made by the Equipment Capability Organisation (ECO) which was tasked with finding the most appropriate mix of weaponry for combat systems. The official Government line is that the capability offered by ASRAAM equipped Eurofighter's leads to the cannon becoming operationaly and economically unviable. However, the British MoD has so far spent £90M on the BK-27 while annual savings from not using it are put at a mere £2.5M (the costs of removing it are put at £32M). This casts some doubt on the economic merits of cancelling the weapon.
The Typhoon has 13 external stations for weapons and fuel, 4 on each wing and 5 on the fuselage with a total payload of some 6500kg (this may now be 7500kg+).
Like the rest of the aircraft, reducing both the drag and Radar Cross Section were a consideration in the placement of the hardpoints and pylons. All wing mounted missiles are launched from GEC developed missile pylons, or Wing Pylon Station Units (WPSU). The two outboard-most rails are for the exclusive use of Short Range Air to Air Missiles (SRAAMs). All of the pylons contain sophisticated electronics forming the last link in the ACS. The pylon systems, featuring MIL-STD-1760 databuses are responsible for arming, releasing and maintaining the attached ordnance. In addition to the wing pylons there are four conformal recessed troughs under the fuselage for the exclusive use of Medium Range Air to Air Missiles (MRAAMs). These mounts were designed for an AMRAAM class missile but the front two stations can accept both the British Sky Flash and Italian Aspide systems. In total the basic Typhoon configuration can carry, in various combinations, up to 10 missiles, two more than the U.S. F-22 Raptor and the same as an Su-35/30 in basic configurations.
At the present time (mid-1999) information on pylon stress limits remains classified. However some basic assumptions can be made. It would be expected that the two in-board pylons on each wing will be 1500kg+ (3300lb+) capable since both are to be capable of carrying the Storm Shadow and Taurus stand-off missiles. The inner out-board pylons are unlikely to be stressed to much more than 500kg (1100lbs) and quite possibly less since they are primarily MRAAM carriers (although they can carry a varied array of ground weaponry). The two out-board pylons are designed to carry only SRAAM and are thus likely to be in the 150kg (330lb) class. Each pylon has been appropriately sized to ensure proper clearance can be achieved to allow each weapon type to be fitted as required.
In addition a number of the pylons can be fitted with racking systems to increase their total capacity (subject to their total load limits of course). For example both the in-board and inner out-board pylons are thought to be rack compatible. Therefore it may be possible to fit two 1000lb bombs to the inner pylons where usually only a single weapon could be carried. Similarly the inner out-board pylon may be fitted to carry two MRAAM class missiles thus freeing up other pylons or perhaps even reducing the aircraft's drag.
External Fuel carriage
Although the Typhoon has adaquate internal fuel for local CAP it will in general be necessary to carry extra fuel. This is accomplished through the use of external fuel tanks. There are various forms of tank available, the choice depending on the mission profile. Currently there are three mounting positions capable of carrying fuel, so called wet points which have been plumbed into the fuel system. These positions are; the centreline wing attachment points (both wings) and the single mid-fuselage position.
At this time three types of tank are either available or being designed. The two common types are similar but are stressed for different flight regimes. One of these is a modified Tornado Hindenburger which is generally subsonic/low-G capable. It will hold around 1500 litres of fuel and would generally be fitted to the wing pylons. The other common type is a slender tank capable of being carried in supersonic and high-G conditions. A new tank fulfilling this role has been designed for the Typhoon which carries around 1000 litres of fuel. With three tanks fitted the Typhoon effectively doubles its fuel carriage. However it does reduce the number of available weapons points while significantly increasing the take-off weight and drag.
Finally there are the so called Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs). Unlike traditional external tanks which are fitted to a pylon CFT's are fitted to closely match the profile of the aircraft fuselage. Therefore CFT's have to specially designed for each fighter. They do however offer the potential to carry substantial amounts of fuel while minimising increases in drag and RCS and freeing pylons.
In line with the on-going enhancement program BAE Systems teamed with Australia's GKN Engage are leading development of the Eurofighter CFTs. The Typhoon will carry two tanks, each holding 1500 litres of fuel fitted to the fuselage above each wing. This additional tankage should increase the aircrafts range by approximately 25%. At present no in-service dates have been set but they should become available for Tranche-3 and perhaps even Tranche-2 aircraft. While the primary customer is the Royal Air Force the increase in range offered is highly beneficial to other potential customers, particularly Australia.
In this section you will find an overview of some of the weapon systems the Typhoon will carry. This particular run down covers Air to Air (AA) weaponry. Further down you will find a similar brief for Air to Ground (AG) weapons.
The table above gives an indication of possible carriage positions and numbers for each pylon and weapon type. By clicking the 'Weapons Overlay' button at the top of the table a secondary window will open showing a plan view of the Typhoon, clicking a second time will close the window. Moving the mouse over the name of a weapon in the table will then result in images of that weapon being overlaid on the Typhoon. In both the table and the overlay image red coloured ordnance depicts a typical load out for that weapon while those coloured blue shows additional (maximum) loads. Additional information for a particular weapon can be obtained by clicking the appropriate name link in the table (a new window will be opened). Please remember that some weapons programs are still in development and thus information and data is liable to change.
The integration of weapons onto the Eurofighter Typhoon fall into two categories, standard weaponry and customer specific ordnance. Standard weaponry includes; AMRAAM, BVRAAM (Meteor), ASRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder. Other missiles will be integrated by the purchasing nations (e.g. IRIS-T by Germany, Aspide by Italy, etc.).
This particular section covers Air to Ground (AG) weaponry. Only a small number of weapons are currently examined, further weapon systems will be added later.
As with the Air to Air Weaponry section above clicking the Weapons Overlay link will open a secondary window where images of each weapon will be overlaid on the Typhoon. Also as with the air to air weapons section red coloured ordnance (in both the table and overlaid graphic) depicts a typical load out while blue indicates additional (maximum) loads. The single yellow-orange graphic on the LGB entry indicates the position of the required laser designation pod. Further information on each weapon can be obtained by clicking the weapon name link in the above table (a new window will be opened). Many of the air to ground weapons noted above are currently under development and not yet deployed thus any information given may change.
Air to Ground weapon integration is a more complex issue than Air to Air systems. Although the Eurofighter is a multi-role aircraft its primary function is as an air superiority (or dominance) fighter. Air to Ground services on the aircraft will be the last functions to be activated during the initial delivery stages. However each Eurofighter will be configured to deliver a number of standard weapons including; LGBs, ALARM and Iron bombs.
 : Royal Air Force On-Line