Volodymyr Zelenskyi visited Great Britain on a business trip on February 8. However, there are still discussions on the Internet about the results of the President’s speech. London received clear requests for weapons, and especially for military aircraft. Both Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s speech and a symbolic gift in the form of a pilot’s helmet emphasize Kyiv’s main goal – to get fighter jets. Whether it is realistic to expect planes from the British and why their technical side is almost irrelevant in this material, we will find out later.
History of the plane
The Eurofighter Typhoon has a complicated history. The idea to create a common plane for Europeans appeared back in the 70s – in the tense historical period of the Cold War. 5 countries worked on the aviation project: Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. However, the process of joint work on the “European fighter” was more like a struggle, because each country insisted on its own ideas, and finally France left the project, creating its own Rafale.
The Eurofighter Typhoon prototype appeared only in 1994 – already after the collapse of the USSR. It was this fact that turned the plane into a long-haul aircraft, because Europe was significantly reducing its defense costs without an eastern adversary and potential threats. Even after successful tests, the Eurofighter Typhoon became a commercial failure, as each country participating in the project reduced the number of aircraft units to order.
The world saw the first serial aircraft in 1998, that is, during the period when the F-16 was already receiving a lot of orders and was distributed among NATO countries, winning the title of the most massive aircraft of the fourth generation. As for modifications, the Eurofighter Typhoon reached the capabilities of the 4th generation aviation only in 2006, and the latest versions of the aircraft appeared in 2014. The first combat experience of the Typhoons was the UN military operation in Libya, which took place in 2011.
Comparing the Eurofighter Typhoon to the F-16, where each generation is easily distinguished by so-called blocks, the Eurofighter has Tranche – batches of production that are divided by updates and their upgrades. Since several countries and companies (Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems, EADS Deutschland, EADS CASA) were involved in the production of the aircraft, Typhoons have a complex classification with changes and adaptations to the requirements of each country. To make it easier to understand, the third tranche is the “latest”, but experts in the British government insist on the transfer of the oldest Tranche 1.
Construction and armament
Eurofighter Typhoon, although it makes a strange impression when familiarizing with history, is still considered a progressive aircraft that supports a wide range of weapons. The Typhoon is a 4th generation multi-role fighter that is used for both air combat and ground strikes. Military experts emphasize the high maneuverability and detection system of the aircraft.
Typhoons are equipped with CAPTOR-M mechanical scanning radars and the Pirate infrared system, which allows for simultaneous tracking of several moving targets. Starting with the second tranche, the Typhoons integrated the Link 16 military tactical data exchange network system used by NATO member nations.
The “metal bird” is lifted into the air by a pair of Eurojet EJ200 twin-circuit turbojet engines, and the maximum speed reaches Mach 2. The plane has a number of features. First, it is one of only four fighter jets in the world capable of supersonic cruising speed. Secondly, this is the first combat aircraft in the history of aviation to have a voice control system installed.
Aiming and guidance of the Eurofighter Typhoon weapons is carried out using a helmet-mounted sight, fully compatible with the night vision camera and the infrared front sight system. The aircraft crew consists of either one or two pilots.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is armed with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and since 2017 the aircraft has gained the ability to carry even anti-ship missiles. In 2015, the Typhoon “learned” to use Storm Shadow, which the Ukrainians hope to receive from Britain as a long-range weapon, as well as Brimstone missiles, which are already transferred by London. The Ukrainian military adapted them to be launched from ground platforms.
The aircraft is also armed with a 27-mm Mauser gun with an electric drive and a revolver method of projectile delivery (the rate of fire of the gun is 1700 rounds per minute).
Technical characteristics of the Eurofighter Typhoon:
So what do the British say about the Eurofighter Typhoon? If you literally read statements and watch public speeches, only Boris Johnson spoke about the Eurofighter Typhoon. He stated that the Royal Air Force has more than 100 Typhoons, as well as more than 100 Challenger tanks in service with Britain.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the transfer of the aircraft possible in the long term and tasked Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to consider options for future supply. Wallace himself said that Britain currently has at its disposal more effective weapons for the transfer to Ukraine, so it will focus on it.
Probably the most correct conclusion from such statements is that the Eurofighter Typhoon, like the Challenger tank, is no longer a military, but a political aid to the British. These weapons open the way for other partners who do not dare to transfer such weapons. Great Britain acts as a “locomotive” that pulls the west and accelerates politicians’ decisions regarding certain types of weapons – tanks, airplanes, long-range missiles.
From the very beginning of the full-scale invasion, London became a reliable partner for Kyiv, starting to supply anti-tank weapons such as the NLAW or the FIM-92 Stinger. With statements about the start of training of Ukrainian pilots, the British encourage other partners to speed up the F-16 decision, which we wrote about earlier. And if you compare the planes head-on, then the F-16s will be much better suited for the Ukrainians, because they are more versatile and have simpler requirements for runways.
So even if London were to hand over the oldest versions of the Eurofighter Typhoon, and even in small numbers, the mere announcement of this would probably be more valuable than the aircraft itself.
The long training time of the pilots and the complex maintenance of the aircraft, which the British Minister of Defense compares to a Formula 1 car, boils down to the following: Ukraine needs quick solutions and help. The latter is still needed for yesterday. And here the British tanks, which we expect to receive in March, give us hope that the west has taken a clear position and will help to go into a counteroffensive and to victoriously drive the enemy beyond the borders of 1991.