new typhoon development aircraft makes first flight
The latest Typhoon test aircraft IPA6 has made its maiden flight from BAE Systems flight test facility at Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire. The aircraft flown by Typhoon Project Test Pilot, Mark Bowman was airborne for 54 minutes.
After the flight Mark commented on the aircraft’s performance:
“This first flight of IPA6 represents the beginning of the next chapter in this remarkable aircraft’s life. Whilst the exterior of the aircraft may be familiar, significant changes have taken place ‘inside’ that will take this to the Tranche 2 standard and beyond. From the pilot’s point of view, the new systems worked very well and performance remains simply stunning. This particular aircraft will be worked hard over the coming years to contribute significantly to where we go next in meeting our customers’ requirements and truly reflects all the hard work and dedication from across the company in getting us to today’s first flight.”
The single seat aircraft, called IPA6, is the sixth Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) in the Eurofighter Development fleet. The purpose of the aircraft will be to prove the Tranche 2 system design, which features enhanced main mission computers and upgraded equipment to equip Typhoon with the capacity to deliver future air-to-ground and advanced air-to-air capability demands.
Steve Greenbank, Systems Delivery Director said, “The first challenge is to test and prove the Tranche 2 system with all its enhanced computing capacity. This will underpin the Type Acceptance process next year leading to the delivery of the first Tranche 2 production aircraft to the four Eurofighter Partner Nations – the UK, Italy, Germany & Spain. Later software releases will progressively introduce enhanced capability.
The Tranche 2 airframe has been strengthened to carry the heavier air to surface weapons that the enhanced system will be able to support. This will increase the versatility of Typhoon as it steps up to the responsibility of providing the core defence capability for the Eurofighter Partner Nation Airforces and future export customers, including Saudi Arabia, who have recently agreed to purchase 72 aircraft at the Tranche 2 standard.
Steve Geenbank went on to say, “The first flight of IPA6 is a major milestone in continuing development work across the four European Partner Companies and the supply chain. This is a significant achievement by BAE Systems and our partners and clearly demonstrates our outstanding engineering capabilities”.
This is the second key milestone achieved in recent weeks. The final RAF Tranche 1 Aircraft BS036 rolled out of the Final Assembly facility in 302 Hangar at Warton in Lancashire last week, to start its flight acceptance tests.