Aviation Week & Space Technology, 7/11/2011, Vol. 173, Issue 25 hat geschrieben:
Defense ProgramsAlmost There Austrian Typhoons Near Full Operational Status
The Austrian Eurofighter Typhoon fleet is undergoing a major modernization effort to finally bring the aircraft to its full operational capability standard.
The nation's first Typhoon has now been upgraded to the service-release program (SRP) 4.3 standard--the latest level for Tranche 1 Typhoons. The entire fleet should be upgraded during the next 18-24 months, a rate that could be accelerated; but given the small fleet of 15 fighters, a larger turnover could leave operational units short of aircraft, says Ioannis Papachristofilou, vice president of the Eurofighter Austria program.
SRP 4.3 involves stripping equipment out of the fighter and returning it to suppliers for a software update before reintegration. Radios, the GPS and IFF (identification, friend or foe) transponder also are being improved. Later, the entire fighter will receive a big software update. Papachristofilou notes that the effort here melds two upgrade steps into one.
The flying-hour program also is increasing to 1,500 hr. per year from 1,200 hr. by around 2015, says Brig. Gen. Rupert Stadlhofer, head of airspace surveillance for the Austrian armed forces. Austria hopes the increase will also yield reduced flying costs, which Stadlhofer estimates at €50,000 ($71,500) per hour based on a 1,100-flight-hour program per year. The direct aircraft operating flying-hour costs are €15,000, says Papachristofilou, and there is a commitment to further reduce that figure.
Austrian air force Typhoon pilots fly 70-80 hr. annually, with the goal of increasing that to 110 hr. Austria also has signed a new in-service support contract that has cut the price by 30% over the 2007-11 agreement. Papachristofilou says those are difficult savings to reach, with ambitious goals for the entire supply chain. The program includes incentive schemes, so when suppliers over-deliver, they can book some of the savings.
The introduction of Link-16 Multifunction Information Distribution System terminals is also under way. This was due to happen earlier, but Stadlhofer says the plan was revised to better fit the stand-up of operational capabilities in the military.
In parallel, the Austrian government is expected to decide this year how to handle its long-term jet trainer needs. The country has been looking for ways to handle future training requirements, since the Saab 105 now in service is aging.
Three options are being considered. One is to acquire a new training aircraft, with a second being to pursue an upgrade and life extension of the Saab 105 fleet. A third option would be to eliminate that phase of training in-house and instead send pilots to Italy to undergo training there.
Austria is gradually increasing the annual hours flown in the Eurofighter Typhoon.
By Robert Wall, Zeltweg, Austria