A series of flight trials of Brimstone with Typhoon have been completed at BAE Systems site in Warton, Lancashire.

The flight trials are part of ongoing development work on the Phase 3 Enhancement package for Typhoon, which will also deliver further sensor and mission system upgrades as part of Project CENTURION  – the programme to ensure a smooth transition of Tornado capabilities on to Typhoon for the Royal Air Force by the end of 2018.

According to a press release:

“The trials were conducted using the UK Typhoon Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 6, and formed part of work to gather air data on the weapon and expand the carriage envelope. Firing trials are now scheduled for later this year to test the effectiveness of the weapon in operational scenarios.
 

The flight trials, an important milestone on the integration programme following the completion of ground testing and initial flight trials last year, were partly carried out through a Combined Testing Team (CTT) approach with pilots from the Royal Air Force’s 41(R) Squadron (the RAF’s Test and Evaluation Squadron). In total around 40 trials to integrate Brimstone with Typhoon have seen the aircraft flown with four AMRAAM, two ASRAAM, two Paveway IV laser guided/GPS bombs and two launchers each containing three Brimstone missiles. Eight of the 40 flights have been carried out with 41(R) Squadron.”
Steve Formoso, Chief Test Pilot for BAE Systems Military Air & Information business, said:

“This series of flight trials has included Aero Data Gathering (ADG) flights to test how the addition of the Brimstone weapon and other assets interacts with the aircraft’s flight control system software. The results have been excellent, with the pilot maintaining manoeuvrability whilst carrying a heavy weapons load.

The detailed results of these trials will now be analysed and further testing carried out ahead of firing trials. The low-collateral Brimstone will provide the Typhoon pilot with the ability to precisely attack fast-moving targets at range, further enhancing the aircraft’s already potent air-to-surface capabilities.”

James McLaughlin, BAE Systems’ Contract Delivery Manager for Typhoon Phase 3 Enhancements, added:

“This continues to be an incredibly productive time for Typhoon development and the benefits of the Combined Testing Team approach are clearly visible.

The dedicated work of our teams and partner companies has ensured we have been able to conduct a large number of flight trials in a short space of time, involve the Royal Air Force within the process and reach an important milestone on the Brimstone integration programme.”

The flight trials programme for Brimstone is running alongside ongoing Typhoon development programmes with the Meteor and Storm Shadow weapons, which form part of the Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) package due to be delivered into service in 2018.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Great news. I have to say that I think the typhoon is an awesome plane and perfect complement to the F35b’s we are getting. Bring it on….

    • @Pacman27

      I agree – the Typhoon is superb and even the US is impressed with it. Has done very well at Red Flag by all accounts!

    • Also agree and for once MoD does seem to be doing a decent job of giving it what’s necessary for it to morph from its original air superiority role to more swing role. I’m really looking forward to seeing more solid plans for AESA upgrade because that’s going to extend this plane’s lead over some of the competition even more.

  2. The RAF does seem to be on the best trajectory of the big three if promises re numbers are kept. Even so, I remain of the opinion overall UK Def is far too thin with too many scary capability gaps. The 2% min spending target has become a comfort blanket for Govt. IMO the UK with it’s unique geography and CASD needs sustained ten year investment of a real 2.5% GDP without all the accounting tricks to make us whole again.

    • Amen to that. The RAF seems to be doing OK, but the RN and Army need some serious investment to update our all round defence capabilities.

  3. It would be good to see the RAF with 8 active squadrons (of 16)of both Typhoons and F35b’s. This is still well short of the USMC buy for F35b’s but if we can then order 16 squadrons of Taranis and pair each of our F35b’s with 2 Taranis then we should be OK.

    Maybe a little bit too futuristic, but we need some scale to our fighter force and 148 F35b’s and a similar number of Typhoons simply isnt enough. The ability to pair up the Taranis (or equivalent) with a F35b could provide the RAF with deep strike capability and numbers.

    Bit off piste – but thought I would put it out there.

    • Given we’re not the US what should our fighter and bomber force numbers be? Also, given your comment on Taranis, how would you use combination of Typhoon, Reaper, F-35, Taranis in;
      a) Defence of the UK mainland
      b) Carriers
      c) Strike Force
      d) Germany (assume we might reverse decision to leave or place permanent base elsewhere)

      • Hi Ian, Given the USMC is ordering 420 F35’s I really would like to see the UK have a similar force size, but then reality strikes.

        I like typhoon and would use a combination of Typhoon and F35’s in a similar way to the US with their F22/F35 pair ups. Where I think we can push the envelope given the fact that the F35’s are limited in distance and payload is that we can use their advanced sensor fit to direct the Taranis’ onto target and back.

        For carrier ops this should be doable (subject to testing of taranis of course) and allows us to use our very expensive new planes to direct substantially less expensive stealth bombers to target and back.

        Typhoons would predominantly continue with QRF duties and F35/Taranis would conduct strike with Typhoon providing air cover.

        It’s a direct replacement for the Tornado fleet with a massive capability jump for what is a lot less money. We have the typhoons already and I think they are good for 15 years with enhancements. The F35 with Taranis, may offer the ability for us to multiply our payload without breaking the bank.

        Going forward there wouldn’t be a place for reaper, but I assume Taranis is (i) some way off (ii) the replacement for reaper anyway.

        The US are looking into F35’s managing UAV’s in the future and I am quite excited by this opportunity for us to marry 2 potentially game changing pieces of kit to the UK’s advantage.

        • To answer the second part of the question on force numbers I think everyone would agree we are light on numbers and the carrier group is the re-introduction of a capability gap and should be added on to current numbers. With this in mind I would like to see 8 operational sqdns, 1 maintenance Sqdn, 4 craft for test purposes and a Sqdn to include 16 airframes in a 2-4-2 configuration. This would bring us to a force of 148 airframes per class. Or a total manned fighter force of 296 airframes. I would also have a further 296 Taranis as I expect these to (i) be circa 25% of the cost of an F35 and (ii) be assigned on a 2 to 1 basis with the F35’s.

          Given each carrier should have 32 F35b’s on them (imo) that takes 4 sqdns for the carrier air wing alone.

          From a force structure and sustainability point of view this allows for 2 sqdns to be active, 4 sqdns at high readiness and 2 sqdns at low readiness with 1 Sqdn in deep maintenance.

          • Appreciate the thoughts Pacman. Let’s hope Govt will see Brexit as opportunity to invest. Regrettably I don’t think May / Hammond really get defence and hide behind the 2% like it’s a job done.

  4. I’m getting totally lost with this now, took my eyes off for a time, deliveries deployments. Is this a T3, or a T1 upgraded to a FGR4/T3? I think the T1s are due to retire soon, like I say, I lost the plot!

    • It should be the FGR4/T3 fleet, the T1 fleet are being upgraded with a new (Saab Aesa Radar I think) for QRF duties and they will be perfect in this role imho and I believe no further plans for these craft to be upgraded further.

      • Thanks for that. I vaguely remember speculation the RAF were considering more T1 to fill the gap, looks like it’s the original 53 I think the number was. Yes, they’ll indeed be perfect, very impressed by them in this role, and it keeps the spares ony in the two bases. But I daresay after this test the T3 will be great in its role too.

  5. I’m just happy we will have 10 squadrons of fighter jets early next decade.. could of been down to 6 at one point.

    • Hi John,
      Progress is welcome but not the same as meeting our fiduciary duties re defence of the realm.

      Here are a few ways in which we can bridge the gap all of which I’d do tomorrow.

      1) Reduce DFID budget by £9b and place the other £5b under FO control aligned to our strategic interests post Brexit.
      2) Cap reduction in Corp Tax at 20p (£6-8b pa)
      3) Stop Inheritance Tax giveaway £1b pa
      4) Amend pension triple lock to single lock against average earnings £3-5b pa

      There’s £19-24b pa with NO cuts to services and NO increase on today’s tax burden.

      I’d spend it like this;

      £5b for defence
      £5b for NHS / Social care
      £5b for housing
      £4-9b on infrastructure

      Choices – just saying there are some real ones!

    • Would it not be better if instead of buying 148 f35b’s we changed our order to approximately 100 b’s and 48 a’s and then after delivery of the a’s order approximately 52 more.

      160 typhoons
      100 f35b’s
      100 f35a’s

      As we will only need enough b’s to embark on one carrier at a time and the a’s have greater range and payload so replace the tornado with a’s and finally the harrier with b’s

      Of course 50 extra fighters at 100million a pop is a big chunk of budget but it would be split over a number of years and the 48 a’s would be cheaper than the b’s.

  6. Interesting ideas Ian ! appreciate you’re return comments.. But i do have my doubts that the government would cut the DFID budget by 9 billion. I do believe we should cut the international aid budget down a little bit, then some of the money saved could then go into the NHS and a little bit extra for defence.. We seem to spend a lot more than France but also countries like Japan on international aid, think the UK should have a fairer balanced budget for aid considering we have many areas at home that need extra funding !

    • Thanks John.

      My central thesis is there are real and material choices which Govt can make today.

      I wouldn’t, but even if the numbers are reversed on DFID budget it’s still £15-20b pa with NO cuts to UK services and NO tax rises.

      There is money in the current spending envelope, we are just choosing to do different things with it.

      IMHO, there are some wrong choices and I’ve laid out my alternatives – everyone will have their own 🙂

      • On the DFID budget – there was a great article across many newspapers the other week where the deputy head or head of DFID had left the gravy train and went public. He sets out a vision of wanton waste amid a rush to spend the budget no matter what.

        I find it interesting that the govt. wishes to be seen to meet the aid target – but isn’t too bothered about the NATO target.

        Also Foreign aid budget is part of the defence budget I believe, but this does depend on source of info.

  7. @Ian

    The carriers couldn’t take all of the craft at once – but can take up to 70 F35 in surge I believe. Just not publicised, if you look at most graphics they have 16 on deck with plenty of room spare.

    I do think the main reason to have a large fighter/strike force is partly for scale and to allow for losses and partly if Taranis could be paired with an F35 then that really does extend its range and stand off capability for literally 1/4 of the cost.

    It’s a bit of a pipe dream – accepted. But its also the type of thing we should be looking at to get better value and reach from our ever decreasing resources.

  8. Ian you are utterly correct, we are still a wealthy nation capable of financing defence and other public services correctly. Your budget amendments are exactly what most uk citizens would want to see. £5 billion a year extra to defence could within 10 years allow a great capability and more crucially critical mass upgrade.
    The RN needs a replacement for hms ocean
    The type 31 frigate needs to be ordered in adequate numbers 10-15 hulls.
    I would like to see a destroyer version of type 26 hull to supplement low numbers of type 45s. Say 4 surface strike/ air defence versions.
    the type 45s need new engines and mk 41 vl strike cells
    The RN needs a new anti ship missile selected and ordered now to replace harpoon so we do not have a navy unable to sink enemy ships.
    The army need to plan for a new MBT to replace challenger 2.

    • I would also use some of the change from Aid to multi purpose strategic capability to reduce political fallout from Aid reduction e.g. I would set up Royal Humanitarian Services with Hospital ships, Hospital aircraft, helicopter transports, LCD, dedicated OPVs etc which could be immediately switched back to UK military use if required. Yemen, Libya, Syria, Med; loads of places where elements of a new RHS could be used and provide experience for personnel.

  9. In the current climate of the SNP and independence it would help if they managed their economy better so the rUK didn’t have to fund their £15 Bn a year deficit. That is nearly £3Bn more than the entire DFID budget or 0.86 GDP

    I do agree with comments above that we spend too much on Foreign Aid (which can be a good thing) and it some should be transferred to the MoD but given many disaster relief operations include our military there should be some cost-offsetting at least. And if we are going to give money for a foreign government to buy equipment better we supply that equipment direct and buy from a UK manufacturer. Take a leaf out of the Americans’ books. Otherwise we give the money and the Germans get the orders.

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