Typhoon combat jet will be integrated with the Brimstone 2 missile under a £165 million makeover deal, representatives of the four-nation program announced at the IDEX defense show on Sunday.
The single part of the package is the £72 million deal with BAE Systems to complete integration of MBDA's air-to-ground Brimstone 2, which has won plaudits for its ability to strike small fast-moving targets with low collateral damage during missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq.
The dual-mode seeker weapon is installed on Royal Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force Tornado strike jets, but with the jet due to be taken out of service no later than 2019, Brimstone's combination of lethality and low collateral damage would have been lost on piloted aircraft without the integration order.
The deal, Phase 3 Capability Enhancement (PE3), also includes software tweaks to the aircraft to enhance the capabilities of the Storm Shadow, Paveway IV, Meteor and ASRAAM missile either already integrated on the jet or in the process of being married to the airframe.
Typhoon jets have become operational with new capabilities in the Phase 1 Enhancement Package. Phase 2 enhancement work is underway adding improvements like the Storm Shadow and Meteor missiles.
British Defence Procurement Minister Philip Dunne was quoted as saying by the DefenseNews on Sunday; the Brimstone helps to make the combat jet a more attractive proposition in the export market and provided increased confidence in the multi-role capability of Typhoon. Completion of PE3 is scheduled for 2017 two years before the Tornado jets go out of service.
Doug Barrie the senior air analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said, "the Tornado fleet's withdrawal by 2019 leaves the Typhoon as the UK's multi-role combat aircraft until the F-35 is available in adequate numbers. The accuracy of Brimstone 2, coupled with its comparatively small warhead, makes it particularly suitable where collateral damage is a concern."
The initial fit for Brimstone 2 will give Typhoon the ability to carry six of the dual-mode sensor weapons on two outboard pylons along with other air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles.
BAE Systems has already been working on an initial phase of Brimstone integration under a £5 million($7.6 million) deal awarded by the British Ministry of Defense last year.