Typhoon has proven its swing role capabilities during Operation Shader, Air Vice Marshal Gerry Mayhew told a media briefing at the Dubai Air Show 2017.

Mayhew said that Typhoon’s role had matured over two years of operations over Syria and Iraq as part of the coalition offensive against DAESH.

“Throughout that time Typhoon has evolved from simply a kinetic operation to a swing role, with the aircraft working effectively alongside many coalition partners. The aircraft is armed air-to-air and air-to-ground every time we leave the ground.

We have built up a great deal of experience in Typhoon working swing role and working with many other different types of aircraft where we are able to datalink – using the links for both kinetic and air-to-air operations. 

All the five UK RAF squadrons have cycled through Operation SHADER and we are now into a second rotation of the squadrons.”

Mayhew also said that away from deployed operations and QRA activity, his focus for the UK’s Typhoon Force was on growth both in terms of fleet numbers and capability.

“The UK’s Security and Defence Review of 2015 laid out the ambition for the Royal Air Force for Typhoon growth and that objective remains. We are looking forward to bringing on two more Typhoon squadrons in the next few years. Those will be front line squadrons and that will be a continued input into operational growth

This is also about bringing in capability growth. This includes a new radar and a programme called Project Centurion which is a crossover from Tornado. That is largely the long-range weapon but also Meteor and Brimstone which will be drawn from Tornado onto Typhoon within the next 18 months, which will allow us to retire Tornado in 2019.

Project Centurion is very important to us and we are holding the companies very much on contract to make sure we meet those timelines to ensure we have an even more effective operational Typhoon Force with the capabilities that come off Tornado.”

But that’s not all. We will continue to grow capability both in software and hardware. For me an essential element of this weapons system is the Helmet Mounted Sight and the freedoms that it delivers. We also made a declaration in 2015 that we would move to the next generation of radar and that’s still our absolute intent.

The interoperability of F-35 and Typhoon – how they share information — is not something we are dreaming of, it’s something we are doing. It’s a case of using evolving systems, and we are already proving this kind of communications is working between the aircraft and proving the capabilities of the links.

So it’s an exciting period in this next couple of years. We will have all three Tranches of Typhoon in service in the UK into 2030 and beyond.”

2017 has been a busy time for the Eurofighter Typhoon and for the UK RAF in particular. AVM Mayhew said:

“All five squadrons are currently involved in an operational cycle both at home and away. This includes QRA which we hold in the UK 24/7 and also in the South Atlantic. For the latter maintaining an 8,000-mile sustainment line is quite a challenge; however, it works thanks to our ‘Whole Force Approach’, working with our partner nations and partner companies.”

Another focus for the RAF in recent months has been TyTAN. He said:

“On TyTAN we are working with BAE Systems and looking at how we do more efficient and effective operations. This involves all partner companies working to deliver this supply line. TyTAN has only been running for two years but I am already seeing over 30 per cent efficiencies per flying hour and we are recycling those efficiencies into new capability.

This is a significant efficiency in the amount of flying hours we are delivering for the cost and it represents an important behavioural change not just for the RAF, who are asking partners to deliver things, but also for our partner companies. Output and capability delivery, those are the prime drivers of TyTAN and will feed into how Typhoon can develop into the future.”

Mayhew said he believes the aircraft is entering an exhilarating period of its life.:

It’s a very exciting time and we are very happy with the aircraft. It’s one of those airplanes that if it looks right, it is right. I can tell you, hand on heart as someone who has experience both within the cockpit as well as commanding five front line squadrons and a conversion unit, it is a superb, proven multi-role aircraft.”

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Daniele Mandelli

Sadly these additional squadrons are using the same number of aircraft and crews.

But it keeps front line squadron numbers at 8 until F35 is built up, then maybe there may be 9 squadrons all being well.

David Steeper

Daniele your right the 2 new sqds are a slight of hand. But it’s another 2 posts for wing commanders so it’s done some good !

Daniele Mandelli


Joking aside I’m pleased they are doing this. 12 in 2010 was unthinkable. 8 now is too few.
6 would be worse.


Surely the headline should have been:
“Members of the Lords, including a former head of the Royal Navy and former chief of general staff in the British Army, will debate maintaining the UK’s defence forces at sufficient levels to contribute to global peace, stability and security, in the House of Lords on Thursday 23 November.”


Read the transcript. Brief summary is that the Lords think defence is underfunded and that they oppose further cuts.


Rob, you can watch the debate live 5:30pm to 8:00pm on BBC Parliament live via the BBC iplayer.


Farouk, you can watch the debate live 5:30pm to 8:00pm on BBC Parliament live via the BBC iplayer.


I thought the 2 new squadrons were coming out of the regeneration of the Type 1’s and therefore can be seen as new as there are 50+ sitting there being cannibalised.

If this is the case and the get a new radar then that should be ok for QRA activities at least shouldn’t it?


That’s what I thought. 2 new squadrons from Tranche 1 then a third new squadron created from reducing squadron air-frame numbers. That’s certainly what I read at the time of the announcements, has it changed or did I read it all wrong?

Daniele Mandelli

I only recall two extra squadrons officially announced in SDSR 15.

An interview with the CAS I read, forget where, mention he had “another in his pocket”
so maybe that is where the speculation of an additional is coming from.

Geoffrey Roach

“commanding five squadrons plus an OCU”…..”looking forward to bringing on two more” or words to that effect. Eight then all told?

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Geoff The OCU, 29R Sqn, is not usually counted. Nor for that matter is 41R Sqn which is the Test & Evaluation Squadron, attached to the AWC, flying both Typhoon and Tornado. A modern day version of the SAOEU and Fast Jet Test Squadrons which were both at Boscombe in the 80’s 90’s if you like. Current: 8 Front line Fast Jet Squadrons. 5 Front Line Typhoon Squadrons. No’s 1,2,3,6,11 1 OCU Reserve Squadron. No 29 (R) 1 T&E Reserve Squadron. No 41 (R) 3 Tornado Squadrons 12, IX, 31 Tornado retires, reducing squadron numbers to 6, as 617… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

Daniele Hi Yes ish!….. but if the two additional squadrons mentioned form and stay with Typhoons we have seven plus four Lightning or maybe I’m off into the land of optimism again.

Daniele Mandelli

Haha you missed a line above.

In time as F35 Squadrons increase to 4 the additional 2 Typhoon units stand down. ( Tranche1 )

We are running on Tranche 1 now to keep numbers up until F35 comes on line.


Had been talk of having a 8th front-line squadron plus OCU by the early 2020’s, will have to see! So yes i had seen the same info: as Rob..


But having 9 squadrons certainly a lot better than it could of been at one point and a large proportion of the aircraft being multi-role too..


*when i say 8th front-line squadron i was just talking about the Typhoons..

Daniele Mandelli

Which would put the the back up to 10, as 617 and 809 NAS will be first F35 units.

Well have to see.


yup, let’s hope that can be done..


Think we all know the answer but maybe a Top -up order for a few more Typhoons would be a good idea,not a large amount say 15,just to keep the fleet a better chance to continue into the 2030’s.Failing that offer the Austrians a deal to take theirs when they are replaced.