Will UK Typhoons deployed in Poland provide scanning for AFU

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on April 23rd that Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft from the Royal Air Force would be stationed in Poland. He emphasized that this move, along with the unified support for Ukraine in its ongoing conflict, has significantly strengthened the security ties between London and Warsaw. 

Photo by Chris Lofting

While no final decision has been made on the duration of the aircraft’s deployment, their arrival is set to align with NATO’s Steadfast Defender exercises. These exercises will involve about 16,000 British personnel in Poland. 

Confronted with substantial cuts to the planned British procurement of F-35B fifth-generation fighters, production delays in the United States, and significant deferrals in achieving full operational capability for the fighter class, the Royal Air Force has found itself relying heavily on the older generation of Eurofighters.

Possible scanning

From the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, both factions have relied on fifth-generation fighter aircraft for their operations. The U.S. Air Force’s F-35s have been critical in gathering electronic intelligence on Russian air defense schemes, while Russian Su-57 fighters have played a vital role in neutralizing Ukrainian air defenses, executing precise strikes, and engaging in aerial warfare. 

There is a degree of uncertainty about whether the Eurofighters will incorporate the technologically advanced Captor-E active electronically scanned array [AESA] radars or persist with the now outdated mechanically scanned array radars. Notably, the Eurofighter program was among the last to transition globally from the old system, implying that a significant portion of the fleet still uses it. 

The integration of the Captor-E could enable Eurofighters to provide electronic warfare and reconnaissance support to Ukrainian and allied ground operations. The United Kingdom has been actively involved, deploying personnel to the theatre. Their deployments span a wide range, from Royal Marines engaging with Russian forces since the conflict began, to Special Air Service special forces consultants believed to be on the ground, advising Ukrainian units.

Photo credit: RAF

About Eurofighter Typhoon

The history of the Eurofighter spans nearly a quarter of a century, originating from a shared program with the globally renowned French Rafale fighter. However, divergence in development led France to invest resources in its own unique aircraft.  

Although the Rafale’s propulsion system ranks among the least powerful for contemporary fighters, giving the Eurofighter a clear advantage in terms of agility and ascendancy, the Eurofighter does have its own set of drawbacks. It struggles with a significantly shorter flight range, higher operational costs, and a delayed introduction of electronically scanned array radars, lagging behind the Rafale by a substantial 18 years.  

Photo credit: RAF

The recent announcement of the Eurofighter’s expanded deployment comes a mere ten days after the Royal Air Force designated this class to combat Iranian drones in the Middle East. This grouping was part of a joint air defense operation alongside the United States, France, Israel, and Jordan.  

Since October of 2023, British fighter jets stationed at the Permanent Joint Operating Base RAF Akrotiri have significantly contributed to the ongoing Israeli conflict against Palestinian military groups, providing essential surveillance over the Gaza Strip. Reports suggest that Eurofighters have played a vital role in these missions.

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