Germany to replace Tornado ECRs with EW-configured Eurofighters

Airbus Defence and Space announced on November 29 that the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag (Federal Government) had recently approved the firm to convert 15 Luftwaffe (German Air Force)-operated Eurofighter EF-2000s to EK-standard, providing the selected multi-role fighters with additional electronic combat (EK) capabilities.

According to Airbus, the 15 aircraft selected for conversion will be equipped with an unspecified transmitter location and self-protection system from Saab, as well as AGM-88 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles (AARGMs) from Northrop Grumman. While Airbus did not disclose the system that Saab is providing for the EK conversion, it is likely to be the latest generation of the Arexis electronic warfare (EW) system, which is currently employed by the firm’s JAS 39 Gripen E multi-role fighter.

This digital concept image provides an early glimpse of what the EK-converted EF-2000s will look like in Luftwaffe service. Note that the aircraft is equipped with AGM-88 AARGMs on its underwing pylons, as well as the Saab EW solution on its wingtips.
This digital concept image provides an early glimpse of what the EK-converted EF-2000s will look like in Luftwaffe service. Note that the aircraft is equipped with AGM-88 AARGMs on its underwing pylons, as well as the Saab EW solution on its wingtips. Airbus Defence and Space

An electronic combat-configured variant of the Eurofighter that has been pioneered by Airbus, the EK is scheduled to be NATO-certified by 2030 and will be used to replace the Luftwaffe’s ageing fleet of Tornado ECR strike aircraft in the suppression/destruction of enemy air defence (SEAD/DEAD) role. “With Saab’s transmitter location system and the AARGM from Northrop Grumman, the Eurofighter EK will be able to detect, localise and disable anti-aircraft radars. In addition, the Saab solution has jammers that improve the Eurofighter’s self-protection,” the firm said in a press release.

While the move has gained German parliamentary approval and has been confirmed as the successor to the Tornado ECR – beating competition from Boeing’s EA-18G Growler and an option to procure more F-35A Lightning IIs – a formal contract for the conversion has yet to be signed but is expected to be inked by the end of 2023. Airbus is currently working with the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), the Luftwaffe and the German Armed Forces Aviation Office to produce a detailed schedule for the integration of EK solutions on the 15 EF-2000s.