Improving the Typhoon’s Aerodynamics

How do you make a swing-role air superiority fighter deadlier and more maneuverable than it already is? The boffins at Airbus Defence and Space have somehow managed to do just that with the Aerodynamic Modification Kit to the Eurofgither Typhoon. The AMK involves the installation of strakes (ridges along the fuselage) and leading-edge root extensions (LERX) where the roots of the delta wings meet the main body of the aircraft, right above its chin intake. Other aircraft that prominently feature such extensions include the F/A-18A-G Hornet/Super Hornet and the Su-27 Flanker; and the benefits of LERX greatly show in their performance! The addition of strakes and LERX gives the Typhoon a higher turn rate, a tighter turning radius and better control characteristics at lower speed, all significantly contributing to the fighter’s air-to-air combat capabilities.

When compared to a standard Eurofighter Typhoon lacking the AMK retrofit, the enhanced Typhoon’s angle of attack (AoA) was 45% greater, with faster roll rates around 100% higher. According to program test pilot Raffaele Beltrame, “The handling qualities appeared to be markedly improved, providing more manoeuvrability, agility and precision while performing tasks representative of in-service operations. And it is extremely interesting to consider the potential benefits in the air-to-surface configuration thanks to the increased variety and flexibility of stores that can be carried.” The AMK test flights included 36 sorties using the IPA7 test model, emanating from Manching, Germany, home to Airbus Group’s Cassidian’s Military Air Systems Centre, first flown by in-house test pilots and then later on by operational pilots drawn from the Royal Air Force, the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force. Previous to the AMK upgrades, the IPA7 airframe (GS029) was maintained at the Full Tranche 2 Standard.

The AMK, and the results from the test flights, have been presented to nations current fielding the Typhoon as well as customers who’ve ordered the aircraft for their inventories. Though none of the Typhoon’s current users have actually expressed considerable interest in raising the capabilities of their aircraft, the AMK will more than likely be included on future Typhoon production batches from here on out.

Now bask in the Typhoon’s incredible agility.


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