This Is What It's Like To Fly Europe's Most Advanced Fighter Jet

The Royal Air Force's Typhoons, otherwise known as the Eurofighter EF2000, is one of the most capable high performance fighter aircraft in the world. Although it lacks the stealth design features of cutting edge "fifth generation" fighter aircraft, it makes up for it in blistering performance and handling, a near seamless man-machine interface, and a defensive countermeasures and electronic warfare suite that is second to none.

Like the F-22, the Typhoon can cruise at speeds faster than the speed of sound without the use of afterburner (supercruise) while carrying a relevant weapons load, which equates to forcing the enemy make decisions faster and allowing the AIM-120 AMRAAM beyond visual range missiles that the Typhoon carries into battle to have greatly increased kinematic performance. The aircraft can also maximize its range and efficiency by cruising at higher altitudes, which also helps with increases sensor reach and high potential energy when entering into an air-to-air engagement.

The Typhoon's high thrust-to-weight ratio and "euro-canard" design allows it to maintain continuous high-g turns long after most enemy aircraft would have slowed to a stall. Additionally, the jet's flyby wire system and related software is so mature that the jet actually flies very similar regardless of its weapons load and extreme maneuvers can be attempted without fear of the aircraft departing from stabilized flight. This advanced fly-by-wire capability is dubbed "carefree handling" by the Eurofighter's multi-national design team.

The aircraft's cutting edge avionics, that are under constant upgrade, are what allows the jet to kill and not be killed during air combat. Notably the Defensive Aids Sub System (DASS) is one of the jet's strongest traits. DASS's sensitive antennas spread around the jet use interferometry to build up a high quality electronic order of battle (seeing enemy radar emitters and other electronic air defense threats) very quickly and with targeting quality fidelity.

DASS also includes a automated chaff and flare system, missile warning sensors, miniature towed decoys housed in the right wingtip pod, as well as electronic countermeasures and jamming equipment. Then there is the jet's CAPTOR radar which is now in the process of being paired with a state of the art Active Electronically Scanned Array radar antenna, which will give the jet a quantum leap in air-to-air detection and ground attack capability while also providing a degree of electronic attack capability. This AESA radar is also unique in that it will be mounted on a swashplate that will allow it to angle off to one side or another, which will give the system a much wider azimuth than traditionally fixed AESA antennas found in other fighter aircraft.

Finally, the jet sports a highly sensitive Infrared Search & Track (IRST) system known as PIRATE. This optical ball mounted in front of the cockpit's windscreen can detect aircraft dozens of miles away and provide weapons engagement quality location data on the targets it sees. This equates to the EF2000 being able to detect even stealthy aircraft without turning on its radar and giving away its presence. This silent stalking capability puts every single fighter aircraft in the world at risk of the Typhoon's weapons, especially when paired with electronic attack and jamming capabilities.

The best part of the Typhoon is that all these systems and capabilities are tied up in a nice user friendly package which allows its crews to work more as battle managers than traditional pilots. This results in more time to better understand the tactical "picture" and exploit the enemy's weaknesses while amplifying the Typhoon's strengths.

To sum it up, this jet is one deadly air-to-air machine, and its slow-to-arrive advanced air to ground capability will soon be on par with the Super Hornet and other highly-developed fourth generation fighters. Although an aircraft like the F-35 has narrow band low observability (stealth) on its side, a trait that is becoming more vulnerable to enemy detection by the day, it does not have the sizzling cruise speed, wild acceleration and super-maneuverability that the Typhoon possess in droves. The jet is one hot machine, with only a few peer aircraft that can really challenge it.

Even the F-22 Raptor pilots have learned to respect and work alongside the Typhoon, and that says a lot...