The first Kuwait-standard Eurofighter has taken to the air at Leonardo Aircraft Division’s flight-test centre at Turin-Caselle Airport, Italy.
Eurofighter Instrumented Series Production Aircraft (ISPA 6) – which made its maiden flight on December 23 – is touted by Leonardo as the “most advanced variant of Eurofighter ever flown,” as it is equipped with a host of capabilities developed under other Typhoon modernisation programmes.
Kuwait's Typhoons will be built to the latest Tranche 3, Phase 3 Enhancement (P3Eb)-standard, equipped with the new Captor E-Scan active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, providing the Typhoon with a full suite of air-to-air and air-to-surface radar modes. This standard also includes integration of MBDA's Brimstone 2 air-to-ground weapon, Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and Storm Shadow cruise missile.
Lockheed Martin's Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) will also be employed on Kuwait's Eurofighters. The Kuwaiti order - which was announced in September 2016 by Lockheed Martin - includes 18 pods, integration and logistics support. DRS-Cubic ACMI P5 combat training pods, along with enhanced very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR) navigational aids, also feature on the platform.
Kuwait had been evaluating its options for new fighter aircraft, which finally culminated in signature of a contract - worth roughly €8bn (US$8.7bn) - on April 5, 2016, for the purchase of 28 Typhoons. The deal between the Kuwait Ministry of Defence and Italy’s Finmeccania (which led commercial activities for the deal on behalf of Eurofighter), covers an order for 22 single-seat and six twin-seat aircraft. The first aircraft is set to be delivered in 2020, with the last expected to be delivered by the end of 2023.
The intergovernmental agreement between the two countries also includes three years of logistics and operational support, plus training of an initial eight KAF instructor pilots, together with ground personnel, in co-operation with the Italian Air Force’s Typhoon operational conversion unit, the 4° Stormo/20° Gruppo at Grosseto. Also part of the contract is an upgrade of the ground-based infrastructure at Al Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, where the KAF Typhoons will be based.