LONDON — Senior U.K. (RAF) officials say that the is “overdelivering” in terms of developing new capabilities for the air arm.
Speaking on the eve of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on July 19, Air Vice Marshal Edward Stringer, Assistant chief of the air staff, said that the “narrative” around Typhoon was changing.
He pointed to how the aircraft had been used in the skies over Libya in both the air-to-ground and air-to-air missions using its swing-role capabilities, and more recently how the aircraft had been put to the test during a major Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., earlier in the year. At Nellis, the Typhoon squadron deployed and worked closely with a squadron ofRaptors, an experience which is now influencing how the RAF thinks about the introduction of the Joint Strike Fighter.
“Back in the 1990s, everybody thought we were going to be flying fifth-generation aircraft now,” Stringer said. “We are now working fourth- and fifth-generation integration, to put them together, and we are unique in the world to do that.
“The U.S. Air Force now sees that the Typhoon is overdelivering, and sets interesting challenges in training exercises. Multi-role [capability] is now being taken very seriously by other air forces and governments around the world,” he added.
Wing Command Rich Wells, commanding officer of 11 Sqn., which took Typhoons to Red Flag, said the aircraft had been tested throughout the exercises. “We thought week one was bad, but week three was as bad as you could imagine in terms of threats. Typhoon shouldn’t be pigeonholed. During Red Flag, we really started to take the handcuffs off.”
Wells said the Typhoon was quickly given the nickname “Slayer” by U.S. Air Force crews because of the tally of air-to-air kills it built up during the exercise.
Stringer pointed to the United Arab Emirates, a key target nation for theconsortium that is hoping to sell 60 Typhoons to the Gulf state to replace its fleet of Mirage 2000s. The RAF has had Typhoons on regular deployment to airbases in the region for several years, taking part in exercises such as the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course at Al Dhafra airbase. Stringer said the deployments were strengthening partnerships and relations between the air arms and governments, and also would help industry in the long run. “That feeds back into growth and prosperity,” Stringer added.