Having conducted captive-carry trials with the MBDA Brimstone high-precision air-to-surface missile since last summer, the Eurofighter Typhoon will shortly undertake the first firing of the weapon. Eurofighter partner BAE Systems will carry out the trials, having also overseen the carriage tests. Brimstone is being integrated onto Typhoon as part of the Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) package. Another key element of P3E is the Captor-E AESA radar, of which flight tests began earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Phase 2 Enhancement development package is nearing completion. Recently an Italian Typhoon conducted the last firing of the MBDA Storm Shadow stand-off cruise missile required in the P2E testing process, while a Spanish aircraft conducted the final two Meteor long-range air-to-air missile firings, including a double launch.
Other MBDA missiles that are envisioned for the Typhoon as part of its future capabilities include the Spear, an advanced air-to-surface weapon with a range of over 100 km (62 miles) and the Marte 2 anti-ship missile. A Typhoon undertook a single test firing of Spear last summer.
2017 has been a busy year for Typhoon. The fleet recently passed 400,000 flight hours, and in April an aircraft from the assembly line in Turin, Italy, became the 500th to be delivered. Current orders to the eight customers total 599.
In terms of operations, the Typhoon is experiencing its busiest period ever. RAF aircraft from the 903rd Expeditionary Air Wing at Akrotiri, Cyprus, have been flying Operation Shader missions against ISIL/Daesh targets in Syria and Iraq since December 2015, while Typhoons deployed to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing deployment in Lithuania have undertaken a large number of live Alpha scrambles as Russian activity in the region grows. The recent Luftwaffe deployment conducted 28 scrambles in four months.