The Eurofighter Typhoon is in service with five nations: United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria. BAE Systems describes the Eurofighter as the world’s most advanced multi-role aircraft. The aircraft has also been ordered by Saudi Arabia, with the first aircraft already delivered. The aircraft has so far been provided in a basic form and most of the major systems including the CAPTOR radar and the Defence Aids Sub-System (DASS) are expected to be improved and updated over time. However BAE states that even these early aircraft will be much more capable than the Tornado F3 and that the development of the Typhoon will exceed the learning curve of pilots
The F2 is the single seat fighter variant. The first F2 is IPA5 and also remains with BAE, its first flight was June 6 2002.
The first operational squadron, No. 3, formed at RAF Cottesmore on March 31, 2006 and moved to its new base RAF Coningsby the following day. No. 11 squadron, the second operational squadron received its first aircraft (ZJ931) on October 9, 2006.
The UK agreed to approve production of “Tranche 2” in December 2004, this tranche will see the RAF receive a further 89 aircraft, bringing its Typhoon inventory to 144. This followed protracted negotiations regarding the early introduction of ground attack capabilities of the aircraft and hence its swing-role capability. While this was always planned it was intended to come at a much later date.
In 2001, it was announced that the Royal Air Force (RAF) would not use the aircraft’s internal 27 mm Mauser cannon. This was due to a desire to save money by removing gun support costs, ammunition stocks, training costs, etc. The gun was also deemed unnecessary since the missile armament was believed to be adequate in the Typhoon’s fighter role. However, because removal of the cannon would affect the aircraft’s flight characteristics, requiring modification of the aircraft’s flight software the RAF decided that all of its Typhoons would be fitted with the cannon but that it would not be used or supported. The service argued that this would save money by reducing the requirement for ground equipment, removing training costs and avoiding the fatigue effects of firing the cannon. The RAF maintained the option to activate the cannons at very short notice were operational requirements to change. However in a third change of policy, the Daily Telegraph reported on 3 October 2006 that the RAF will fully utilise the cannon.