Lethal Weapon; the Long-Awaited Eurofighter Typhoon Enters Service in Britain This Summer. Its Technological Innovations Will Revolutionise Air Combat, Says Neil Crossley

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Byline: NEIL CROSSLEY

The long-awaited Eurofighter Typhoon enters service in Britain this summer. Its technological innovations will revolutionise air combat.

NAVIGATION

The Eurofighter, which has been designed to perform in all weathers, is equipped with a suitable array of innovative navigational aids. One of these is the highly advanced Global Positioning System, which enables the aircraft to pinpoint its location to within a few metres anywhere on Earth.

A microwave altimeter provides highly accurate data at even the lowest of altitudes.

The aircraft is also fitted with British Aerospace's Terrain Profile Matching System to provide digital terrain elevation maps of the Earth's surface. If a pilot is unable to use the radar for stealth reasons, this system can automatically follow and predict the terrain. And if the plane is, inadvertently, about to rip the roof off old Mrs Pegden's at number 12, Sunnyview Grove, the system will sound a warning alarm.

HELMET-MOUNTED SIGHT

What wouldn't a Spitfire pilot have done for one of these? The Helmet-Mounted Sight (HMS) provides 24-hour, all-weather capability to track targets using the visor display. The pilot can designate them for attack via a microphone on the Direct Voice Input (DVI) system. This is a speech-recognition device that has a vocabulary of 200 words and a response time of 200 milliseconds.

But the most astounding aspect of the HMS is its Optical Motion Tracking System. This determines which way the pilot is looking and displays the appropriate information on the pilot's helmet visor. To lock on to an aircraft and launch a missile, pilots can simply look at the target and instruct the DVI system to fire. 'It's a real innovation,' says aviation expert Nick Cook. 'It will change the way battles are fought.'

DETECTION

Much of today's aerial combat is essentially a war of detection, with pilots constantly monitoring the air around them. The Eurofighter's Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS) detects any threats and responds accordingly.

The Eurofighter is fitted with Missile Approach Warners - one in each wing and one in the rear fuselage. The RAF version of the aircraft also boasts a sensor that is able to detect any incoming laser-guided missiles and determine their bearing. Thus the pilot has a 360-degree picture of threats around the aircraft.

METEOR MISSILES

The Eurofighter carries ten short-and medium-range missiles. Its most powerful weapons, however, are going to be four Meteor air-to-air missiles.

The Meteor missile won't be 'fielded' until the end of the decade but it is already redefining ideas of aerial combat. It is a high-speed jet engine with no moving parts. The effect is a vast range, resulting in a much larger 'no-escape zone.' The Meteor missile also enables fighters to hit their airborne enemies at distances of up to 62 miles. …