Typhoon for Canada?

Well...  Why not?

Let's get this out of the way:  I am a huge fan of the Eurofighter Typhoon.  I you were to ask the 12-year-old me to draw a picture of a jet fighter, it would look almost exactly like a Typhoon (it would probably have the F-18's twin tails though).  Researching this blog has deepened my respect for it even further.  Tales of the Typhoon having "Raptor Salad" for lunch, the long list of planned improvements, and even the thought of the RCAF flying the same aircraft as the RAF conjures up images of Canadian aces flying Sopwith Camels and Spitfires in the two World Wars.

So why isn't this blog called Typhoon4Canada?

The BAe EAP (Experimental Aircraft Program)
Put simply, the Eurofighter Typhoon was born out of a common desire by major European countries to keep their home grown fighter aircraft tradition alive.  While they were once the proud developers of legendary aircraft like the Sopwith Camel, Fokker Triplane, Supermarine Spitfire and Me 262; Britain, Germany, Spain, and Italy started to realize that more and more of their military aircraft had the "Made in the U.S.A." sticker on them.

Europe was already seeing the benefits of joint ventures between countries.  The SEPECAT Jaguar was the result of British and French cooperation, and the Panavia Tornado was built as a joint venture between the U.K, West Germany, and Spain.  With the relative success of these projects, it was only natural for an even more ambitious project to design and build a world class fighter.  Britain, West Germany, France, Spain, and Italy would all pool their resources together to create the "Eurofighter".

The program had more than its fair share of "hiccups".  France, unable to convince the other nations to allow Dassault to take a leading role, left the project early on to develop its own fighter, the Rafale.  Later in development.  Germany, now reunified after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was facing financial hardships and would have pulled out as well if there wasn't such a penalty (which, oddly enough, was placed in the contract at West Germany's insistence).  Military budget cuts as the Cold War came to an end, as well as the usual challenges of bringing four different nations together in one project.

More about the troubled development of the Eurofighter Typhoon can be found in the documentary:  "Weapon of Mass Construction".  It can be found on YouTube:  Part One  and  Part Two

The pride of Western Europe's skies.
So was it worth the effort?  The Typhoon was a certainly a successful design.  For all intents and purposes, the aircraft is a "Hot Rod".  It's engines produce about the same amount of power as a Super Hornet, yet the Typhoon is smaller and weighs 25% less.  It's large delta wing and canard configuration produces far more lift than the Super Hornet as well.  The Typhoon's shape makes it inherently unstable, allowing for quicker manoeuvrability aided by its computer assisted flight controls.  Also, the Typhoon is one of the few aircraft capable of breaking the sound barrier without the use of afterburner, also known as "supercruise".

A Typhoon show of its PIRATE infra-red sensor.

On the offensive side, the aircraft is more than capable of holding its own.  Currently equipped with one of the best non-AESA radars, the CAPTOR-M, the Typhoon has a great detection range.  For close up fights, it carries the Passive Infra-Red Airborne Track Equipmen (PIRATE) that enables it to lock on to its enemy's heat signature.  It also utilizes a helmet mounted display and voice controls to help keep the pilot's eyes on his opponent.
The Typhoon's weapon selection.

With 13 hardpoints capable of holding 16,500lbs worth of missiles and bombs, the Typhoon certainly has bite.  It is capable of carrying just about anything in the NATO arsenal, including the new MBDA Meteor.  It is also armed with a 27mm "Mauser" cannon (the same fitted to the Gripen) for when the missiles run out.

Despite its trouble beginning, the Eurofighter Typhoon has made quite a name for itself.  Deployed over the skies of Libya, it provided air-superiority duties while other fighters performed ground attack roles.

More impressively, the Typhoon has made a name for itself with its performance in mock combat exercises with dissimilar jet fighters.  Not only has it proven victorious over the 4th generation (and much celebrated) F-15 Eagle, but it has also scored simulated kills on the 5th generation (and supposedly king of the skies) F-22 Raptor.

The "Typhoon 2020".

What about the future?  Well, the Typhoon has enjoyed some recent sales to Saudi Arabia and Oman.  This has encouraged further development for more advanced features for future versions, such as an AESA version of its CAPTOR radar and conformal fuel tanks for extended range.  The Typhoon's EJ-200 engines may be upgraded to produce 30% more power with the possibility of thrust-vectoring engines for even greater maneuverability.

So with a resume like that, why isn't this blog called "Typhoon4Canada"?

For one, even though the Typhoon is billed as a "multi-role" fighter, it is first and foremost an air superiority machine.  Part of the reason France left the project is that it required a more "well rounded" aircraft capable of ground attack and operating off of a carrier.  Although the Typhoon is capable of ground attack, its current radar and other systems are simply not optimized for it.  This is likely to improve in the future, but the fact remains that the Typhoon is a dogfighter first, "bomb truck" second.

More seriously, the Eurofighter Typhoon is expensive.  Not only is its expensive to procure (some sources claim about $143 million a piece), but it is estimated to have a rather high operating cost of about $18,000 per hour.  Of course, this is still cheaper than the F-35's estimated $21,000 per hour, but far higher than the Saab Gripen's $4700 per hour.  The Typhoon also has a history of parts shortages keeping planes from being ready.

Typhoon demonstrator showing off Spanish, Italian, British, and German markings.

Of course, there is always the chance of manufacturing offsets.  The Eurofighter Consortium consists of a lot of companies that could probably be coaxed into doing business in Canada and help bring high paying jobs into the Canadian economy.  Of course, we must remember that Eurofighter's original purpose was to benefit Europe's aerospace industry over others.  Control over the Typhoon's development and jobs created were directly linked to how many fighters each member country bought.  With a relatively small number of jets being purchased, Canada would likely be delegated as a "junior partner" with little say in future development.

Would the Typhoon be a good fighter for Canada?  Absolutely.  It has a proven track record and should be considered one of the top jet fighters of this day and age.  It's planned improvements should keep it in top form for the foreseeable future.  Many would say it is a better fit for Canada than the Gripen or the F-35 thanks to its twin engines and superior air-to-air capabilities.  It would be hard to for me to argue these points.

Perhaps the Eurofighter Typhoon would be the right jet fighter for Canada under the right conditions.  "If" Canada was able to procure the Typhoon for a reasonable cost...  "If" flying costs could be brought down to more manageable levels...  "If" Canada could barter a deal guaranteeing plenty of industrial offsets or even manufacturing the fighter here...  "If" the Typhoon's systems could be modified to improve its ground attack capability...

That's a lot of "If"s.  Maybe, like the EF-18G Growler, the Typhoon might be a better choice if it was flown as part of a mixed force, rather than Canada's sole jet fighter.  Indeed, with a mixed force of EF-18Gs and Typhoons, the RCAF could boast a fleet of "Raptor Killers".

But then again, the Gripen E/F offers a lot of what the Typhoon has to offer, only in a more affordable and more versatile package.


  1. The orders are Saudi Arabia and Oman not Qatar!

  2. What can The Typhoon offer that The Gripen can`t? Besides double trouble in the form of double engines?
    The Gripen ng can offer fastest turnaround, highest reliability, take off, landing and basing on usual roads. And everything Typhoon can do.

  3. There are now two additional reasons to favour the Typhoon.

    1. The recent failure to win a much promoted 60 plane order from the UAE leaves the Eurofighter consortium in a much weaker commercial position. Other than a possible follow-on order from the Saudis there are now no other large potential export orders available. If Canada were to express an interest in buying say 80 Typhoons (and 20 EF-18s) the Government would be in a very strong negotiating position on price!

    2. The introduction of conformal fuel tanks gives the Typhoon a much greater range than either the Gripen, F-18 and especially the F-35. A combination of these with three drop tanks would still enable the Typhoon to carry either 6 Meteor BVRAAM and 6 ASRAAM or 8 Meteor BVRAAM and 2 ASRAAM over much longer distances. As Canada has such a huge airspace to cover this should be of significant importance.

    Another big advantage in favour of the Typhoon is that it can operate either the Storm Shadow or Tauras stand-off long range cruise missiles which it's looking increasingly unlikely that the F-35 will be able to do because it's not a priority when faced with the whole backlog of combat software.

    In the CAS mission the same is true for Brimstone. With the new Brimstone 2 operating up to a 22.5 mile range this gives Typhoon an unmatched advantage against moving vehicles - and it can carry 18 of them!

  4. The bottom line of all this is that Harper wants the US to defend Canada's arctic claims, and then give the US 98% of our claim.

    If we want a fighter aircraft that's both effective and cost effective, we should consider buying any of the advanced variants of the Su-27 series aircraft from Russia, which I'm sure they'd be willing to sell us.

    The original Su-27 is superior in some respects to the Eurofighter Typhoon, and is still less than 55 million per plane I believe. The advanced variants? Superior to the Typhoon in every respect and all well under 100 million if I recall correctly.

    Oh I know... in all the promotional videos the Eurofighter is shown downing either MiG-29s or Su-27s with ease. Yes, and in the US their F-22 simulator shoots down even other stealth aircraft with ease.

    The real world of course is not what you're seeing in promotional videos and simulators :)

  5. it is really costly so why do they buy it????????

  6. The big problem will be that the F-35 single engine giving out flying in the cold northern area of Canada noway pilot will able to bring the plane back.With the f-18 atleast if one goes he can still have a chance to save the plane. The Government didn't even bother looking at the Eurofighter cost much less I am sure.