Figures released by the UK government show that, for the first time, Typhoon has used its cannon in anger.
The figures highlight that between January and March, RAF Reapers performed eight air strikes in Iraq and 12 in Syria. Its Tornados carried out 52 and 15, respectively, while the totals for the Typhoon were 104 and two. Raytheon Systems’ Paveway IV precision-guided bomb was the weapon of choice for the deployed Typhoon force, which released 252 during this time period, plus the notable 26 rounds from the type’s Mauser 27mm cannon.
The Mauser BK27 is a 27mm calibre cannon manufactured by Mauser (now part of Rheinmetall) of Germany. It was developed in the late 1960’s for the Multi Role Combat Aircraft programme that ultimately became the Panavia Tornado, it is used on a variety of aircraft including Typhoon, which carries 150 rounds.
There was a proposal based on cost grounds in 1999 to limit the gun fit to only the first 53 batch 1 Typhoons aircraft destined for the RAF, only on the basis that the guns would be used as ballast and not used operationally, but this decision was reversed in 2006 and spares and ammunition are now frequently purchased by the RAF.
Last year, the government announced that the life of Typhoon is to be extended into 2040 and that two additional squadrons will be created, giving a total of front-line 7 squadrons.
“We will be extending the life of our multirole Typhoon for 10 extra years through to 2040, meaning we will be able to create 2 additional squadrons. This will give us a total of front-line 7 squadrons, consisting of around 12 aircraft per squadron. We will also invest in their ground attack capability and fit them with a new Active Electronically Scanned Array radar to ensure they can continue to operate in hostile environments in the future.”
The RAF currently field 192 combat aircraft, made up of 87 Tornados; 53 Tranche 1 Typhoons; and 52 Tranche 2 and Tranche 3A Typhoons, deliveries of which are ongoing.