German Eurofighters: Multi-Role Fighters of the Luftwaffe
Article by Patrick Roegies
Photos by Patrick Roegies (unless noted)
The Eurofighter – Typhoon made its first flight in 1994. Soon after, multiple prototypes were manufactured and delivered to the Royal air Force, Spanish Air Force, Italian Air Force and German Air Force. On 9 December 2002 the first Eurofighter for the German Air Force was handed over to the German Ministry of Defense and the German Air Force at Manching. The two-seater, built under construction number GT001, was flown to the Air Force’s Technical Academy 1 at Kaufbeuren in January 2003, there it was used in the training of the first ground crews. Seven additional two-seat Eurofighters were scheduled for delivery by 1 October 2003. Eventually, the initial German Eurofighter entered active service at 30 June 2003.
Eurofighter or Typhoon
In contradiction to the Royal Air Force and the other air forces operating the Eurofighter, the Luftwaffe did not adapt the nickname of the aircraft “Typhoon”. The reason for that is twofold. During World War II the Germans used both an anti-aircraft missile and an aircraft which were baptized with the name “Taifun” or Typhoon in English. Waves of “Taifun” rockets were to be launched at formations of US Army Air Force bombers on their way to their targets during the war. The weapon however never made it to an operational status and none have been deployed during the war. The system however was adapted by the US and the Soviet Union in the further development of anti-aircraft missiles.
Fighter wing conversion
By 1 April 2004 the Luftwaffe received 7 operational Eurofighters. Jagd Geschwader 73 (JG73) received the initial aircraft at 30 April 2004 during an official ceremony. The first single seat aircraft built under construction number 039/GS001 was delivered to the air force technical school at Kaufbergen on 14 February 2005 and was used to train the technical personnel.
The German Air Force or Luftwaffe took delivery of the Eurofighter in 3 Tranches. During Tranche 1 a total of 33 aircraft were delivered between 2004 and 2008. These aircraft were mainly delivered to Ja JG73 currently renamed to Taktisches Luftwaffen Geschwader 73 (TLG73) Steinhoff based at Laage in the North of Germany. The Wing used to operate the MiG-29 received from the inheritance of the former East German state. After the MiG-29’s were sold to Poland, the squadron operated the F-4 Phantom until the initial Eurofighters arrived in 2003. Initially, the Luftwaffe would receive 15 other aircraft but these aircraft were re-assigned to the Austrian Air Force to promote export and to prevent delays in deliveries. As a result, some of the aircraft allocated to the Austrian Air Force were delivered to the Luftwaffe. Equal to the German government, the Austrian government cancelled a number of aircraft which they originally intended to purchase.
|Serial||Type||Construction Number||Remarks||Former Luftwaffe Serial|
|7L-WG||EF2000||164/AS007||diverted to Germany as 98+08|
|7L-WH||EF2000||171/AS008||diverted to Germany as 98+09|
|7L-WI||EF2000||176/AS009||diverted to Germany as 31+16|
|7L-WJ||EF2000||178/AS010||diverted to Germany as 31+17|
|7L-WK||EF2000||183/AS011||diverted to Germany as 31+18|
|7L-WL||EF2000||187/AS012||diverted to Germany as 31+19|
|7L-WM||EF2000||191/AS013||diverted to Germany as 31+20|
|7L-WN||EF2000||194/AS014||diverted to Germany as 31+21|
|7L-WO||EF2000||198/AS015||diverted to Germany as 31+22|
|7L-WP||EF2000||xxx/AS016||part of order which was cancelled|
|7L-WQ||EF2000||xxx/AS017||part of order which was cancelled|
|7L-WR||EF2000||xxx/AS018||part of order which was cancelled|
|7L-WS||EF2000||xxx/AS019||part of order which was cancelled|
|7L-WT||EF2000||xxx/AS020||part of order which was cancelled|
In 2004, the German government approved the purchase of the Tranche 2 production series Eurofighters. By the end of 2007, the Luftwaffe noted their 3535th flight hour in the Eurofighter. From 2008 forward until 2014, Tranche 2 aircraft were delivered. Tranche 2 comprised 79 aircraft and were delivered to former fighter wing, Jagd Geschwader 74 (JG74), renamed to Taktisches Luftwaffen Geschwader 74 and based at Neuburg in the south of Germany in the province of Bavaria. The squadron traded their F-4 Phantoms for the brand new Eurofighters. The first Eurofighter was delivered to the Wing on 25 July 2006, which marked the end of the F-4 Phantom era. The wing received their last two pair of aircraft at 14 April 2009 and 16 April 2009 which meant the completion of the conversion of JG-74. On 24 November 2009 the 200th Eurofighter built under construction number GS036 appointed serial number 30+51 was handed over to the Luftwaffe at Manching.
The second squadron to be equipped with Tranche 2 aircraft was the “Richthofen” Wing, Taktisches Luftwaffen Gruppe TLGr71. They received their initial Eurofighters after finally withdrawing their final F-4 Phantoms from use in 2013. Deliveries took place until mid-2014 and the conversion was completed by the autumn of 2014.
Tranche 3 was split up in Trance 3a and Tranche 3b. Tranche 3a comprised the delivery of 31 and were mainly appointed to TLG31 “Boelcke” based at Nörvenich . The wing used to operate the Tornado and started their conversion on 16 December 2009 when the former Fighter Bomber Wing Jagd Bomber Geschwader 31, renamed to Taktisches Luftwaffe Geschwader, received their first four Eurofighters. In order to fulfill the fighter bomber task, the Eurofighters were equipped with GBU-48 laser guided bombs and a laser designator pod. In total, the Wing would receive 35 aircraft. The intended second fighter Bomber unit to start the conversion to the Eurofighter was JBG33 but due to the cancellation of the final 37 Eurofighters the unit based at Buchel and currently operating the Tornado will not receive the Eurofighter and will probably be disbanded when the Tornado is withdrawn from use.
With the increasing operational number of active Eurofighters within the Luftwaffe, the Eurofighter commenced taking over the duties from their “older” predecessors. In January 2008, the Eurofighter from JG74 based at Neuburg took over the Quick Ready Alert tasks initially shared with the F-4 Phantom. In June 2008 the Phantoms were relieved of this task and the Eurofighter took over sole responsibility. On 16 March 2009 the Luftwaffe noted their 10,000th flying hour, which meant the flying hours were tripled in a period of 3 years.
The first deployment to Decimomannu Air Base in Sardinia took place on 5 August 2009. The purpose of this exercise was to exercise air combat maneuvering. On 31 August 2009, the Luftwaffe took their turn in the air policing roll in the Baltics operating the Eurofighters of JG74. This was the first deployment with real adversaries. Already on the first day of the deployment, the German Eurofighters performed their first live QRA flight and intercepted a Russian Air Force An-72 transport aircraft. On 15 September, the Eurofighters intercepted a A-50 Mainstay and two Su-27 Flankers. In November 2009, the JG74 Eurofighters were relieved by JG71 still operating the Phantom.
Soon after the Luftwaffe Eurofighters participated in all major NATO exercises. In 2012, the first Luftwaffe Eurofighters participated in the exercise Frisian Flag and, later that year, the German Eurofighters of JG74 performed their introduction the Red Flag Alaska exercise.
- On 15 September 2010 all Luftwaffe Eurofighters were grounded as a result of an assumed potential problem with the ejection seats after an accident in which two Spanish Air Force Eurofighters were involved.
- One Eurofighter operated by JG74 lost two drop tanks during flight.
- 23 June 2014 A German Eurofighter collided in mid-air with a civil aircraft. This marked the first accident in which a German Eurofighter was involved.
Serial Number Overview
|30+44||EF-2000||GS-0029/151, flies with the number 98+07|
A technical guide on the Eurofighter can be found HERE (Courtesy of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH)
Featured Image: A German Air Force single-seat Eurofighter over Lithuania as part of NATO policing of the Baltic States. The aircraft is from JG-74 from Neuburg, Germany and has IRIS-T missiles and drop tank. | Copyright Eurofighter- Photographer: Geoffrey Lee, Planefocus Ltd