"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eurofighter Typhoon, 20 years in the making, finally seen in action

Last week 2 Eurofighter Typhoons F2's operated by Number 3 (Fighter) Squadron were scrambled for the first time from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire where they had assumed responsibility for the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) element of UK air defence in the southern part of the country on June 29th. They were sent to meet a single Bear-H aircraft after the early warning radar system detected it heading towards UK territory, according to the Ministry of Defence.(Pic obligingly provided by MOD - 2 Typhoons sent up so one could take a snap or two of this historic moment)

This encounter is thought to have ocurred before President Putin announced that 14 long-range patrols by its bomber planes would re-commence after having been stood down to save costs in 1992. His veiled threat was part of political theatre but emphasises how the Russian State is ratcheting up the pressure - especially in a way that the publics of the west can understand.

This is the first time that the Eurofighter Typhoon - a supposedly multi-role (but really only dual role) aircraft has been seen in an air-to-air role - it can now take off, fire missiles and land again. These are the result of what is known as the Retrofit 2 upgrade programme to what is known as Block 5 standard. Previously it could only operate in an air-to-ground role - ie. it could drop bombs. All Typhoons will eventually be dual multi-role capable. It has no weaponry for self defence and has a fly by wire system that even after 20 years development is plagued with problems. (Pic Jan 20th 2006 £50Mn. plane goes up in smoke on landing)

The Block 5 Typhoons are cleared for the 9g envelope as intended, with additional features such as sensor fusion; full direct voice input; enhanced global positioning system; defensive aids sub-system countermeasures including automatic chaff and flare dispensers; radar air-to-surface modes including ground mapping; and initial Forward Looking Infra-Red.

The Block 5 Typhoon will be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, plus laser-guided bombs. External fuel tanks are certified for supersonic flight, while air-to-air refuelling is cleared for all customer-specified tanker types.

These do not of course have the Head Tracker Systems which BAE Systems placed a US$3.4 million (approximatelyR24 million) order for with SA based with Denel Optronics (now part of Zeiss) to complete the industrialisation of the optical head tracker system. Denel claim evaluations (unstated authors) have shown the system to be superior to any similar available in the world.

These HST's are designed to designate and exploit the pilot’s LOS (Line Of Sight) for the purpose of slaving the aircraft sensors and systems and thus enabling the pilot to achieve lock-on of sensors, avionics systems and missiles, simply by looking at the target - the Yanqis use an Israeli system from Vision Systems International (VSI) which does the same thing but is called (confusingly) a Head Mounted Display (HMD) which is now installed in F-16's. See here and here for previous posts on these systems.

RAF Coningsby is now the " home" of the Typhoon of which the RAF now has had 43 delivered to Coningsby by June this , and there are now 2 operational squadrons - No 3(F) and XI Squadrons.

The base also houses the Operational Conversion Unit (No 29 Squadron) and the Operational Evaluation Unit (No 17 Squadron). Now that 3(F) Squadron is operational, the fourth Squadron, Number XI, under Wingco Gavin Parker is in the process of building up to full strength.

This is the lead unit for Typhoon's ground attack function, and is expected to be fully operational in both the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles during the course of 2008. All Typhoons will eventually be multi-role capable. Forty three Typhoons were delivered to RAF Coningsby at the end of June this year.

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