Eurofighter, an ever-evolving system

27 March 2024

Thirty years after the first flight and twenty years after the first delivery to the Italian Air Force’s 4th Wing, the first in Italy to operate the aircraft, the Eurofighter Typhoon now serves as the backbone of the country’s air Defense.

The Typhoon, managed by the Eurofighter GmbH Consortium, is Europe’s largest industrial cooperation project in the Defense sector. The four partner nations and five export customers have ordered 680 aircraft, with 603 delivered and over 850,000 flight hours logged. Leonardo plays a crucial role in the Typhoon project, holding a 21% share and contributing significantly to the definition, design, development and production of the aircraft, which is at the technological cutting edge of European industry. Factoring in its responsibility for manufacturing the airframe and for contributions to the avionics and on-board electronics, Leonardo’s overall share rises to approximately 36% of the entire programme’s value.

The Eurofighter system is continuously evolving via a series of technological upgrades. These enhancements have significantly broadened the aircraft’s mission capabilities and, crucially, ensured its effectiveness in countering current and future threats. With incremental upgrades in line with future digital environments, with emerging manufacturing and development technologies, and with increasingly demanding operational activities, the aircraft will provide strategic autonomy for its users until at least 2060.

The Eurofighter’s evolutionary trajectory encompasses interoperability with next-generation fighters and their ‘ecosystem’, which includes cooperative drones, advanced weapon systems and electronic warfare sensors, all integrated within a combat cloud information system. In this future-oriented scenario, the Eurofighter is developing new technologies focused on mission system architecture, human-machine interface, operational management and engine performance. Much of the work involved in the fighter’s evolution applies to future ‘Combat Air’ programmes, where the Eurofighter can act as a technology demonstrator, considerably reducing risk during the design phase.

The programme provides jobs for approximately 100,000 people across the four partner nations, with 20,000 jobs in Italy, encompassing direct and indirect employment and those employed in related industries. Over 400 suppliers contribute to the Typhoon programme, 200 of which are based in Italy. Because of recently secured orders and tangible new prospects in both export and domestic markets, the Eurofighter programme will continue offering substantial economic benefits and generating new highly skilled jobs for Italy and its European partners. This will ensure positive local impacts in areas where the aircraft is produced and operated for at least another three decades.