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Eurofighter – Already a Museum-Piece

On March 15, 2007, Flugwerft Schleisseim, the aviation department of the Deutsches Museum, located on the outskirts of Munich, received a new and exceptional exhibit: the first prototype of the Eurofighter EF 2000 multirole combat aircraft.
This may seem odd to find the newest European fighter, manufactuted by Eurofighter GmbH, in a museum. The almost 20-year old company was specifically established to develop the then European Fighter Aircraft (EFA). In 1983 the Chiefs of Air Staffs of France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain drew thei requirements for a common air superiority fighter able to counter the Eastern Block’s Mig-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 new generation fighters. In 1985, France withdrew from the initiative, preferring to develop the indigenous Dassault Rafale.
On June 26, 1986 Eurofighter industrial consortium was set up by MBB (33%), Aeritalia (21%), British Aerospace (33%) and CASA (13%), and had its corporate seat in Munich, in the same historical building in Arabella Strasse already hosting Panavia. In 1989, when the Eastern Block collapsed, EFA was still on the drawing board. With the radical change of the operational scenario and related requirements, the programme survived with reduced budget and less stringent timing. In that period, EFA became EF 2000, and the ground attack role was added to its original air-superiority mission. In 1998 the name Typhoon was assigned to the aircraft, but only for the export versions. In 2004 Royal Air Force adopted the name for their Eurofighter aircraft.
The EF 2000 DA1 98+29 now on display at the Flugwerft Schleissheim, was the first of seven Development Aircraft planned for the programme, and flew for the first time at Manching, on March 27, 1994. The new, purpose-built EJ200 engines were still not ready, so the aircraft was powered by two Turbo Union RB199 turbojets. During its experimental activity, DA1 logged some 500 flight hours in 577 flights, the last oof which was on December 21, 2005.
Flugwerft Schleissheim, opened in 1992, is located in Oberschleissheim airport, set up in 1912 to host the aircraft of the Royal Bavarian Flying Corps. After WW2, it bacame an important U.S. Army Aviation base. Today the airfield has reverted to sport aviation and flight training activity, and hosts a Federal Border Patrol helicopter base. The Museum’s facilities are a beautiful mix of historical buildings and modern pavilions, but they are already filled by some 100 aircraft on display, including a rare Dornier Do 24T-3 three-engine flying boat and the second prototype of the Dornier Do 31E-3 experimental VTOL military transport aircraft. Other valuable exhibits are a Hindustan HF-24 Marut 1 fighter of India and the prototype Hispano HA-300 light fighter, designed respectively by Kurt Tank and Willy Messerschmitt in the 1950s, the VFW VAK 191 B experimental VTOL fighter-bomber and the more recent EADS/Boeing X-31 vectored thrust demonstrator aircraft.
In the dedicated workshop, a CASA 2.111B is under restoration. The aircraft is the Spanish version of the Heinkel He 111 twin-engine bomber, re-engined with Rolls-Royce Merlins after WW2. This restoration programme appears too meticulous for an aircraft just destined to static display.

In the picture: Eurofighter EF 2000 DA1 98+29 on display at Flugwerft Schleissheim, Munich, in 2007. (Aeromedia)

(Aeromedia, April 2007)