The first Typhoon Tranche 3 fighter aircraft has begun a series of flight tests, Italian aerospace and defense manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi said Monday, Dec. 9.
According to Alenia Aermacchi, the Tranche 3 features "hundreds of modifications," including a number of small panels on the fuselage designed to give the Typhoon more range and to make room under the aircraft for the integration of larger weapons.
In November, the Eurofighter consortium conducted the first in a major series of flight tests to integrate the MBDA Storm Shadow missile onto the Tranche 3.
“For casual observers the aircraft is little changed from its sleek predecessor but it has a number of provisions that will allow it to take on additional capability in the future. One of the few visual clues is a number of small panels on the fuselage which are there to accommodate the fitting of conformal fuel tanks," said Mark Kane, managing director at BAE Systems.
BAE Systems, along with the Eurofighter consortium, assembled the first Tranche 3 for the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF).
“At the nose a new internal structure has been built and work has been carried out on power, cooling and electronics so that a new E-Scan radar could easily be accommodated," said Kane.
Under the Tranche 3A contract signed in 2009, the RAF will receive 40 aircraft, with more than 80 other Tranche 3 fighter jets split between Germany, Italy and Spain.