A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon has fired an MBDA Brimstone missile in combat for the first time. The aircraft was on a routine patrol in the Mid-Euphrates River Valley (MERV) in Syria under the UK’s Operation ‘Shader’ on February 19 when the pilot used one of the precision weapons to attack and destroy a boat being used by so-called Islamic State.
The RAF’s Typhoons have now assumed the full combat air role in ‘Shader’ now that the Tornado GR4 is being retired from service and has returned to the UK. Under Project ‘Centurion’ the British Typhoons are now equipped with the full suite of capabilities the Tornado offered, bar the RAPTOR reconaissance pod.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced initial operating capability (IOC) for both the F-35B Lightning (in a land-based capacity) and the upgraded Eurofighter Typhoon ‘Centurion’ at an event at RAF Marham on January 10 — although this had already occurred in time to meet the planned goal of December 31 for both types. It is reported that the first RAF Typhoon combat mission with Brimstone occurred on January 30.
‘Centurion’ essentially formed a three-year, £425-million, initiative to help ensure the fighter could effectively replace the Tornado as it exited service in March. Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) added the Storm Shadow cruise missile and MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM). Further adding MBDA’s Dual Mode Seeker (DMS) Brimstone under the follow-on P3Ea.
While ‘Centurion’ is a UK-only campaign, it is a clear illustration of the power of the Eurofighter partnership in that it paves the way for other countries to follow suit — notably the follow-on P3Eb is the delivery standard for Kuwait’s 28 aircraft and it will include all of these upgrades and more.