Eurofighter consortium member BAE Systems has begun engine runs on the first Tranche 3 Typhoon, from the last production batch of the multinational fighter now on order.

The aircraft is scheduled to fly before year’s end and the Tranche 3 is to enter service next year with the U.K. Royal Air Force.

Compared with the Tranche 2 Typhoon, the aircraft has increased avionics computing power and capacity, a fuel-dump capability and provisions for an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, high-speed data network, fiber-optic weapons bus and conformal fuel tanks.

The four Eurofighter partner nations, Oman and Saudi Arabia have together ordered 172 Tranche 3 Typhoons, delivery of which would complete production of the European fighter at 571 aircraft unless further domestic or export orders are secured.

Tranche 3 aircraft will incorporate production upgrades being developed under the Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) program. A contract for development of the first part of P2E, the Evolution 2 Package (E2P), was signed by Eurofighter on Oct. 30.

To be delivered by the end of 2015, E2P will include enhancements to the radar, defensive aids subsystem, and multifunction information distribution system (MIDS), as well as improvements to the flight and utilities control systems for compatibility with civil airspace.

The P2E upgrade, some elements of which will be retrofitted to Tranche 2 Typhoons, will integrate the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and further develop the man-machine interface based on operational experience. The Meteor integration contract was signed in June.

Eurofighter has yet to sign a contract for development of the Euroradar E-Captor AESA radar, despite having provided a formal response to the partner nations’ July 2012 request for proposals. BAE says the partner companies continue to work on the AESA to protect the timescale for future international sales.

The first major upgrade of the Typhoon since its development, the Phase 1 Enhancement (P1E), will be ready at the end of this year. P1E implements full air-to-surface capability to provide the fighter with a “swing-role” capability to carry both air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons.

P1E includes full integration of the Rafael Litening III targeting pod and Diehl IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile in addition to the MDBA Asraam, air-to-surface helmet-mounted display symbology, Mode 5 secure identification friend-or-foe, and MIDS updates and cockpit direct-voice interaction improvements.