Destined to form the backbone of air force fleets for decades to come, Eurofighter Typhoon has a well-planned Capability Road Map shaping the aircraft’s evolution which includes the integration of Storm Shadow, a deep strike cruise missile, Meteor, a beyond visual range air-to-air missile, and Brimstone, a precision attack missile.
Now, in response to demand from potential customers, an anti-ship missile capability MARTE ER is set to join that list.
An 18 months System Definition Phase for the integration of MARTE ER on the Typhoon platform started in the second half of 2016. Recently completed, it represents a significant milestone on the route to full integration of the missile, having identified the major areas of intervention at missile and platform level in order to implement the anti-ship capability.
In addition to a formal interest from one of Eurofighter’s export customers, the Italian Air Force has launched a business case evaluation for the integration of MARTE ER.
“MARTE ER is a low risk, high capability, proven missile,” says Paul Mead, Head of Business Development at MBDA. “The integration activities will be part of a proven and well-established model of integration between MDBA and Eurofighter. In short, it’s a low risk, “quick” capability.
“Globally there’s been a significant upturn in the need for maritime dominance and MARTE ER and Eurofighter could address that requirement.
“If you look at the international market for Eurofighter there are a number of potential customers who have a need for anti-ship capabilities. Naturally, we’re working very closely with all the Eurofighter partner companies to provide what the market requires.”
MARTE ER is the 3rd generation of the missile system. Earlier versions are in use on helicopters, naval platforms and coastal batteries, and this new version has been modified to ensure that it’s compatible with the wing carriage on a fighter jet like Eurofighter.
Originally looked at following interest from a Eurofighter export customer in 2011, this work was followed up in 2014 with preliminary activities carried out between MBDA and Leonardo who worked closely with the other Eurofighter Partner Companies. The contract for the System Definition Phase was then signed in May 2016.
“This established a preliminary statement of work for the integration on the Typhoon. Effectively, it defines activities required to get to a final clearance, including the system engineering activities, as well as mechanical and electrical interface definitions,” says Marco Gelli, Head of new Italian anti-ship for MBDA Italia.
During this phase of work Eurofighter successfully attracted export customers who had anti-ship requirements.
“This meant that the System Definition Phase has effectively been the first 18 months for the full-scale integration to platform,” says Marco.
The work to date has included structural activity and ground trials using the test aircraft IPA2, a lot of which centred on handling and carriage. Says Marco: “We were able to manage the installation of MARTE ER on IPA2 — move the missile from the trolley to the pylon — in just three minutes. This was quite an astonishing feat. Leonardo told us that it was the first time an installation of a new store took only three minutes.”
With experience deriving from the integration of weapons onto Typhoon, MBDA has developed a very close relationship with the Eurofighter programme.
Says Paul: “We see ourselves as partners who are focused on delivery and capability for the customer.
“Our experience through the Brimstone and Meteor integrations has helped us build a very different and successful working relationship; one which we believe will help streamline the MARTE ER integration.
“We’ve been focusing on aligning our processes such that we end up with a missile and a platform that are able to come together technically, functionally and also in terms of satisfying the market – so understanding the market requirement is important.”
The integration activities will be part of a proven and well-established model of integration between MDBA and Eurofighter.
(Tony Garner, Eurofighter World Magazine)