Warton, United Kingdom: The very first Tranche 3 Typhoon next-generation fighter jet has been weighed-in like a boxer to confirm that it meets the rigorous design standards set by the engineering team working on the aircraft at BAE Systems.
The aircraft, British single seat number 116, had its measurements recorded using a highly-sophisticated set of hydraulic scales at the Company’s military aircraft business in Warton. BS116 tipped the scales at 23,500 kg, almost 245 times heavier than the former WBA heavyweight champion, David Haye (96kg).
The weighing system for Typhoon consists of load cells which are placed between hydraulic jacks and three lifting points of the aircraft, with the jet then being gradually taken off the ground. Based on the readings from a series of these simple three point lifts and using basic arithmetic, BAE Systems engineers can calculate the total aircraft weight and the centre of gravity positions to a high degree of accuracy.
Like all champion fighters the Tranche 3 is required to meet strict weight restrictions although, unlike heavyweight boxers, there is no option of moving into a different class if it fails to meet its target. All aircraft can vary in mass due to fluctuations in components such as paint, wiring and sealant, making periodic weigh-ins necessary for both military and civil jets in order to determine the correct centre of gravity pre-flight.
As Typhoon is naturally an ‘unstable’ aircraft, accurate pointing of the centre of gravity is critical. The mass, centre of gravity and inertia properties are calculated in real time by flight control computers. These measurements are then added to information on the fuel and stores from the on-board armament control and utilities control systems, in order to give a complete picture of the total load.
This is the latest step in the delivery of the Tranche 3 programme which will improve and expand the Typhoon’s capabilities, ensuring the fleet is future-proofed and bringing all the competencies of a next generation fighter jet to the UK now.
The upgraded aircraft will become a multirole fighter – capable of shifting between air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks without having to stop to reconfigure its weapons. Visibility will also be enhanced with Escan radar – which uses over 1,000 transponders and allows pilots to steer the monitoring beam at the speed of light – and man-machine cohesion will become more seamless than ever before.
BAE Systems is part of the international consortium of businesses that are building the new jets as part of a nine billion Euro contract for 112 aircraft which was signed in 2009. The Royal Air Force will receive 40 of the jets as soon as they are ready, allowing the Force to remain at the cutting edge of aviation developments for many decades to come.
Tom McMichael, Engineering Director, BAE Systems Combat Air commented: “Weighing a machine of this size is no mean feat and it is vital that the centre of gravity calculations are accurate to the nearest millimetre. We are delighted to have taken another important step in the Typhoon Tranche 3 programme with this successful weigh-in; the upgrade across this incredible fleet continues to roll out and we are proud to be involved in maintaining the UK’s position at the forefront of aviation combat.”