Typhoon fighters equipped with a package of new capabilities have entered operational service with the Royal Air Force.
BAE Systems, a partner in the Eurofighter consortium that builds the Typhoon, said Friday that the first 15 of the RAF aircraft fitted with what is known as the Phase 1 Enhancements Package (P1E) are now in service.
Separately, BAE is also working on a new set of upgrades for the jet, and a company spokesman said BAE expects to be under contract to integrate the latest version of the Brimstone ground attack missile, known as Brimstone 2, on Typhoon in the first quarter of 2015.
By next April the RAF should have received 35 of the Tranche 2 fighters upgraded with the new P1E capabilities in a 1.2 billion euro (US $1.9 billion) program that will eventually see all 67 aircraft of the type in the British fleet modified.
The RAF expects to declare full operational capability in April, a BAE spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said it was the largest ever fighter upgrade program ever handled by BAE.
Eurofighter is owned by Airbus Defence and Space, BAE and Finmeccanica. The four-nation European program involves Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The upgrade includes integration of the Paveway IV precision guided bomb, full air-to-surface integration including a Litening III targeting pod, and full integration of the IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile used by all the Typhoon operators except the UK.
Other improvements include an updated multifunctional information distribution system (MIDS), Mode 5 identification friend-or-foe system, and improved radios and direct voice inputs.
Other Eurofighter partner nations will receive P1E enhancements starting in 2015.
Only Tranche 2 aircraft will receive P1E. The enhancements come as standard on Tranche 3 aircraft now being delivered to European Typhoon partners and customers like Saudi Arabia and Oman.
The package is divided into two elements, Phase 1 Enhancements (a) and (b). The latter allows pilots to undertake ground attack duties while still engaging aerial threats.