A snag on the pyrotechnics and engines of the Martin Baker ejection seats has caused the Royal (British) Air Force and Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Eurofighter Typhoon to be grounded since July 20 after being warned by “not essential flights” were deducted. ”
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The US Navy has also grounded an undisclosed number of its F/A-18 Hornet, Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler as they also use variants of ejection seats that share the same or a similar component.
The discovery also affected the RAF’s BAE Hawk aircraft that make up the ‘Red Arrows’ display team, which had to cancel its aerobatic display at the Farnborough Air Show closing ceremony.
Corresponding reports, A German Air Force spokesman confirmed on July 22 that Eurofighters not destined for “active protection” roles on the eastern flank – which are currently witnessing the Russia-Ukraine war – are being benched for inspection and repair of their ejection seats will.
Typhoons, part of QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) squadrons, are designed to quickly mobilize, intercept and monitor enemy military activity. These are the QRA Nord in Neuburg; QRA South, Danube and; other formations based in Norvenich and Rostock-Laage. The German Air Force flies 140 Typhoons.
“There is no certainty about the function of the pyrotechnic cartridges of the seats installed on the aircraft,” the report added.
Fortunately, after initial suspicion of having the same problem, Panavia Tornado ground attack aircraft were immediately reinstated as they belonged to a different production line than the Typhoon. At the time of filing this report, there were no updates on this matter.
Martin Baker ejection seats pushing jets down?
The RAF then followed suit, also announcing plans to airlift their own Typhoons and Hawks. While the Typhoon uses the Martin-Baker MB Mk.16A ejection seats, the Tornado and Hawk use the Mk.10 variant.
It is unclear whether other Typhoon users such as Spain and Italy have also taken similar action. “We have been notified of a technical issue that may affect the safe operation of our ejection seats on Typhoon and @rafredarrows aircraft.
We have suspended non-essential flying as a temporary safety precaution until the situation is better understood,” the Royal Air Force said tweeted on July 22nd.
For its part, the US Navy pursuant to a expression from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on Jul 26 identified the faulty component as a Cartridge Actuated Device (CAD) on the MB Mk.14 seats.
The MB Mk.14 is also installed on the T-45 Goshawk and F-5 Tiger II trainers.
“After being notified of a potential defect by supplier Martin-Baker, the team used validated X-ray methods to scan on-hand inventory to verify that each item was properly manufactured before sending it out to the fleet to check on-hand to replace CADs. The CAD will be replaced in the aircraft’s assigned squadron and the aircraft will be inspected prior to its next flight,” the NAVAIR statement said.
The Eurofighter Typhoon was first introduced in 2003. Around 570 Eurofighter Typhoons have been built to date at a unit cost of US$117 million.
The aircraft is available in single and two-seater versions. The fighter’s empty weight is 11,000 kg and it can take off with a maximum weight of 23,500 kg. The aircraft is powered by two Eurojet afterburning turbofan engines producing around 18,143 kg of combined thrust and giving it a top speed of 2,494 km.
It has a ferry range of 3781 km and a combat radius of 1388 km. The typhoon can climb at a speed of 1,043 feet per second and reach a maximum altitude of 65,000 feet.
In addition to a 27 mm revolver cannon, the fighter jet has 13 hard points. The 4++ generation Typhoon is the only multirole jet fighter – aside from the French Dassault Rafale – that compares to the most advanced Russian fighter in its class, the Su-35S, and has a reasonable chance against the poorly observable/secret one Su-57 ‘felon.’
Exercise to deter China at risk
To an embarrassment for Germany, the problem was discovered when Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht visited Tactical Air Force Squadron 74 in Neuburg and denied her the opportunity to watch Luftwaffe pilots on manoeuvres.
The aim was to convince them of Germany’s ability to repel Russia in the air if it came down to it, so a Report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
This could also affect the forthcoming Rapid Pacific, Pitch Black and Kakadu drill rigs in Australia 22,000 km away in mid-August to early October.
In addition to visits to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore as part of the exercises, stopovers in South Korea and Japan are also planned.
The Air Force, which wanted to send 13 planes including six Eurofighters, four A-400Ms and three tankers, is now staring at the possibility of not being able to take part unless problems are resolved.