This is the finest review of the Typhoon II yet to be published. It contains outstanding photographs in full colour in a heavily illustrated work. It provides an insight into owning, flying and maintaining what the manufacturers claim is the world’s most advance multi-role fast jet.
NAME: RAF Typhoon, 1994 onwards (all marks), Owners’ Workshop Manual
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Anthony Loveless
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
DESCRIPTION: This is the finest review of the Typhoon II to be published. It contains outstanding photographs in full colour in a heavily illustrated work. It provides an insight into owning, flying and maintaining what the manufacturers claim is the world’s most advance multi-role fast jet.
The Typhoon II was designed as a Cold War combat aircraft to be built by committee for European nations. Critics have and continue to argue that it is obsolescent, being designed for a war that is unlikely to be fought and arriving only shortly before a new generation of stealth aircraft of which the Lockheed Martin F-35 is the prime example.
By the time that the European Fighter Aircraft, EFA, was ready to enter production and be named Typhoon II, the nations committed to buying a specific number for service were all trying hard to wriggle out of their commitments. In operational terms, the RAF would have been much better served by a number of F-35 variants, taking STOVL and CTOL versions to achieve an operational and economic mix suitable to meet identified British military aircraft requirements. That was not possible because of the contractual, financial and psychological commitments to an advanced European fighter and strike aircraft.
Even the less critical will concede that the Typhoon II is a beautiful aircraft that includes many advanced technologies, has been successfully introduced into service and is just unfortunate in having been designed before the low observable technologies had become available to the manufacturers and before the major advances in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV technologies had taken place.
In some respects the Typhoon II story has been described as being similar to the Hawker Fury in the late 1930s. As a biplane fighter it was a beautiful machine that handled well and was a good gun platform, but its design had been fixed just before the Bf-109, Spitfire and Hurricane monoplane fighters flew. It might be more accurate to compare it with the Hawker Hurricane. The Hurricane essentially used a fuselage very similar to the Fury biplane, both in its shape and method of construction. The early machines were fabric covered and even the final marks retained fabric covering of the aft fuselage. However, it carried the then massive armament of eight rifle calibre machine guns mounted in the wings outboard of the propeller arc so that every gun could achieve its maximum rate of fire. An advanced reflector gun sight provided significantly advanced aiming of the guns. The cockpit was fully enclosed and the pilot was equipped with the latest HF radiotelephone. Self-sealing tanks reduced the fire risk in combat and the early Hurricanes outperformed the German Bf-109 and the Spitfire. That performance advantage was rapidly lost as the Spitfire and its German counterpart took advantage of a different design philosophy and were rapidly developed, the Spitfire serving on into the 1950s and having twice the original engine power and weight of fire.
The Typhoon II is not only named for the Hurricane’s successor, but it does share several points of commonality. It is a capable combat aircraft. In some areas it can claim to be the most advanced fast combat jet in service, it may even outperform all others in service across all key combat points of measurement, but it will be outclassed very soon by the F-35 and similar combat jets. Even in the short term opportunities have been lost. The two British super carriers under construction should have include catapults and arrester gear in their original design and specification. That would have allowed the Typhoon II to operate from them at least until the F-35 is available to fully equip the carriers. That would have ensured the Typhoon II was designed for catapult launch and arrester-assisted landing, making it more competitive as an export sale to those countries intent on building a carrier capability but wanting to reduce the cost of the aircraft aboard by avoiding STOVL and VSTOL jets. Unfortunately, a late attempt to modify the British carriers produce a huge bill for design studies and appears now to have been completely ruled out on grounds of cost for modifications and delays to an already delayed delivery for the carriers. In France goes ahead with the construction of a new carrier to the British design, it is likely that catapult and arrester gear will be included, allowing the French to continue using their Rafale CTOL jet fighter