The Italian aerospace and defence company Alenia Aermacchi, working closely with its Eurofighter partners, has successfully conducted the first release of a Storm Shadow missile from a Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft as part of its missile integration program.
The trials took place in November and saw the missile being released from the aircraft and tracked by radar up to impact.
Storm Shadow provides a significant leap in the Eurofighter Typhoon’s operational capabilities, enabling the platform to deploy multiple weapons at a very long range well clear of danger from air defences.
Alberto Gutierrez, Chief Executive Officer of Eurofighter GmbH said: “The trials represent an important step forward in the development and integration of the Storm Shadow weapon system onto the Eurofighter Typhoon. The results help pave the way for full integration of the missile onto the aircraft for operational use.”
In parallel to the flight trials led by Alenia Aermacchi, another Eurofighter partner, BAE Systems, has completed the first trial installation of a Storm Shadow missile onto a RAF Typhoon with support from weapons provider MBDA. The confirmation of this procedure is an essential part of the integration contract.
Storm Shadow, already in service with the Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force Tornados, is a conventionally armed, stealthy, long-range stand-off precision weapon designed to neutralize high value targets.
The new weapons system will add the capability to strike in day or night in all-weather conditions, well-defended infrastructure targets such as port facilities, control centers, bunkers, missile sites, airfields and bridges that would otherwise require several aircraft and missions. This is a new addition to the Eurofighter Typhoon’s potent simultaneous multi-/swing-role capabilities.
Powered by a turbo-jet engine, with a range in excess of 250 km, the Storm Shadow missile weighs approximately 1.300kg and is just over 5 meters long. It will be available to operators when the Eurofighter Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancements become operational.
The first tests on Storm Shadow integration for the Eurofighter began in December 2013 with development aircraft IPA2 operated by Alenia Aermacchi. Initially the Early Weapon Integration Flexibility tests featured a configuration of 2 Storm Shadow missiles, 2 AIM-9L Air-to-Air missiles, and 4 under fuselage Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM).
Six further flights were then completed in the following weeks to assess the Storm Shadow’s compatibility with the Eurofighter’s Air Data System and Flutter & Structural Coupling tests were also carried out. An additional later flight was then performed with baseline configuration (2 AIM-9L, 4 under fuselages AMRAAM and 1 Fuel Tank only) for comparative analyses purposes.
The assessment of the Performance & Loads on the aircraft while carrying the missiles was done in March 2014 in a program known as Extended WIF phase 1. Five flights were performed with the Storm Shadows installed and a further three with baseline configuration.
The recent inert drop-tests and store release trials will now be followed by work on the instrumented missiles for the Environmental Data Gathering tests known as Phase 3. Additional work will include flights with the automatic pilot set for new aircraft configuration, and further flights for assessing handling qualities.