The Eurofighter Typhoon has passed another milestone on its journey to become a fully operational Royal Air Force (RAF) multi-role combat aircraft, with the first firings of Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM) from a front line squadron aircraft.
Four ASRAAM were successfully launched by Typhoon F2s of No 3 (Fighter) Sqn based at RAF Coningsby, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, at the Aberporth weapons range in Cardigan Bay, Wales, during the week 26 February to 02 March 2007.
These successful firings represent a further step towards Typhoon’s planned take over of the southern element of the United Kingdom’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) air defence stance, which 3 (F) Squadron will undertake from the middle of this year (2007).
“The first front-line firings of ASRAAM represent a significant milestone in the Typhoon Force’s progress towards operational deployment,” said Wing Commander Lol (correct) Bennett, Officer Commanding 3 (F) Squadron.
“The fact that we were able to let one of our most junior pilots fire one of the missiles is a testament to the overall weapon system integration,” he added.
Squadron Qualified Weapons Instructor, Flight Lieutenant Chris Layden, said: “These firings demonstrate that Typhoon and ASRAAM are a winning combination providing lethality in the air-to-air arena”.
The MBDA ASRAAM missiles will, together with AIM-120C-5 Advanced Medium-Range Missiles (AMRAAM), form the initial operational air defence weapons system to be deployed by Typhoon. ASRAAM was first test fired from a Typhoon in May 2005 belonging to No 17 (Reserve) Squadron, the Operational Evaluation Unit.
The Typhoons involved all operated from their home base at Coningsby, flying to Wales to launch their missiles at flare packs being towed by Mirach target drones over the sea. One missile was launched on each of four sorties during the week, the first of which was on Monday 26 February 2007.
Typhoon is the product of a four-nation development programme involving Germany, Spain and Italy as well as the UK. These four countries have announced their intention to eventually acquire a total of 620 of these aircraft.
Initially Typhoons are being flown in the air defence role, but their capabilities are being continually developed to eventually encompass a full multi-role function.
The first Typhoon to enter RAF service was handed over at the end of June 2003. After 17 (R) Squadron, which evaluates equipment and combat techniques, came 29 (R) Squadron which serves as the Operational Conversion Unit, training air and ground crews to operate the aircraft.
No 3 (F) Squadron formed as the first front-line Typhoon squadron on 01 April 2006, and will be joined at RAF Coningsby by the second front-line unit, No XI (F) Squadron at the end of this month (March 2007).
Image: Photography by Geoffrey Lee, Planefocus Ltd for the RAF and Eurofighter GmbH
3(F) Squadron RAF Eurofighter Typhoon based at RAF Coningsby