German Eurofighter TYPHOON receives first qualification for air-to-ground role
On 18 December, German Air Force (Luftwaffe) Tactical Air Force Wing 31 (TaktLwG 31 Boelcke at Nörvenich Air Force Base), took delivery of the GBU-48 in a ceremony, carried out by Major General Klaus Veit, Vice President of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support ( BAAINBw), and Major General Günter Katz, Commander Flying Associations in the Air Force Command.
Earlier this year, Luftwaffe Eurofighter TYPHOONs (in the German case called EUROFIGHTERs) from TaktLwG 31 Boelcke tested GBU-48 laser-guided bombs at Vidsel Test Range in Sweden. Germany ordered 143 EUROFIGHTERs, of which 125 had been delivered at the end of February 2017, which are due to be equipped with MBDA’s METEOR missiles and GBU-48s from Raytheon, which may later be replaced by Boeing’s GBU-54 bombs. Now 27 EUROFIGHTERs of TaktLwG 31 Boelcke are to be equipped with the weapon.
The Multi-Role (air-to-air and air-to-ground) ability of German EUROFIGHTERs can now be emplyed in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) of the NATO Response Force.
The Eurofighter’s main air-to-ground weapon for all-weather precision attacks will be the 1,000lbs (450kg) GBU-48, consisting of a Mark 83 bomb with an explosive mass of 440lbs (200 kilogrammes). It is to be guided by GPS or laser from the LITENING III laser designator pod (manufactured by Rafael). Both the Mark 83 and the LITENING targeting pod are already in use with the Luftwaffe, which plans to modify the GBU-48 with a Trojan Improved Penetrator (TIP), combining increased penetration with reduced explosive power to minimise collateral damage. The aircraft can be armed with up to four of these bombs.
Soldiers and technicians of the Boelcke squadron were involved in the development of the new missile, reported Maj.Gen. Veit. “An intense process was needed to understand the interaction of bomb, detonator and aircraft,” he said during the handover ceremony.
BAAINBw carried out successful trials with the Luftwaffe during this year, at the end of which operational capability of the bomb was proven.
With the new armament, the Luftwaffe will in the future, “also be able to respond to challenges that we do not yet know,” Maj.Gen. Katz continued.