Flight tests of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile on a Eurofighter Typhoon began on November 27. A week later, the four-nation industrial consortium delivered the 400th aircraft. The first Tranche 3 Eurofighter flew on December 2 from Warton.
Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 2 made the first Storm Shadow flight from Alenia Aermacchi’s flight-test center at Decimomanu airbase in Sardinia. Eurofighter said that a major flight-test program would be required to integrate the big missile, which weighs 1,300 kg (2,866 pounds) and is more than 16 feet long. The flights began with flutter tests and an assessment of the potential for such large stores to interfere with the air data system, according to Eurofighter. “Storm Shadow is a major step forward, significantly increasing the air-to-ground capabilities of the Eurofighter Typhoon,” said Eurofighter CEO Alberto Gutierrez.
The missile is already in service on the Tornado strike aircraft of three Eurofighter customers: Italy, Saudi Arabia and the UK. Eurofighter said it will be available for the Typhoon beginning in 2015.
Meanwhile, EADS Cassidian will soon fly the equally large Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile on Typhoon IPA7 from the Manching flight-test center in Germany. The German/Swedish missile is currently carried by German Air Force Tornados and Swedish air force Gripens. “Concurrent testing of these two similar missiles optimizes the Storm Shadow integration,” said Eurofighter.
The 400th Typhoon was delivered to the German air force in a ceremony at Manching on December 4. It was the 112th aircraft for Germany. Gutierrez described the event as “a historic milestone,” adding that “now we must focus much more strongly on export campaigns.” In 10 years of operations, the fleet has amassed more than 210,000 flying hours. Jesus Pinillos, the general manager of the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (Netma), said that the reliability of the Typhoon “has surpassed expectations.”
The first Tranche 3 Typhoon flew from BAE Systems’ Warton facility earlier this week and will be delivered to the UK Royal Air Force. Deliveries to the German, Italian and Spanish air forces from the final assembly lines in those countries will follow.