While the June 2016 Brexit vote may have been a setback for the ultimate European experiment, the results seemingly run counter to past European collaboration. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the world of aerospace. The Eurofighter – perhaps the pinnacle of European aviation – is a testament to what the continent can do … together. Production of the aircraft is now winding down, and its ancillary, the Eurojet EJ200 gas turbine engine, is being affected.
Tornado and Concorde were the brainchild of European cooperation and, generally speaking, successes. However, what isn’t as well known, is that their engines were developed as inter-European efforts.
The Eurofighter employs two EJ200 engines with distinguished European “bloodlines” as well.
The Eurofighter was born out of two consortia: Eurojet and Eurofighter. While Eurofighter needs no introduction, Eurojet may be a little less familiar. The EuroJet EJ200’s components were developed by Rolls-Royce plc, MTU, Avio Group SpA, and Industria Turbo Propulsores SA – all well-respected names. And, like the Eurofighter, The Eurojet consortium hails from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Producing an impressive 20,000 pounds of thrust (90kN) with a weight of approximately 2,200 pounds, two EJ200s can propel the Eurofighter to Mach 2! Yet, despite such remarkable performance figures, the EJ200 can’t maintain production without securing new orders.
Currently, the sole application for the EJ200 is the Eurofighter. So, production of the powerplant is totally dependent on how the aircraft fairs in the market. Kuwait ordered 28 of Eurofighters in April 2016, meaning EJ200 production – albeit at a low rate – will continue to approximately 2022.
The current market for the Eurofighter is difficult. Those who can afford the fighter have a variety of aircraft from which to choose, such as the Boeing F/A-18 E/F, the Saab Gripen E/F, or the Lockheed Martin F-35 where available. Only time will tell whether more Eurofighter orders will be secured. Because the EJ200 is not restricted to one platform, other applications could extend its life beyond that of the Eurofighter.
Though the program is still in its infancy, Turkey’s next-generation fighter, the TF-X, may employ the EJ200 – and extend its life significantly. In an interesting aside, the British Bloodhound supersonic land vehicle project, albeit small, employs an EJ200. The EJ200 will be one of the powerplants (along with a rocket engine) to push the vehicle to a planned 1,000 miles per hour.
Whether it be in a Eurofighter streaking across the sky … or in a car breaking the sound barrier (and then some), the EJ200 will be around for a while. The last EJ200 won’t roll off the production line until the early 2020s, barring further orders.
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