A new book reveals that UK fighter jets have been scrambled over 150 times since 9/11 to intercept commercial jets in UK airspace whose behaviour has given air traffic controllers cause for concern.
The RAF Typhoon Manual (Haynes) looks at the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) system, which is set up to detect, deter and if necessary intercept any threats to UK airspace.
The Typhoon acts as a year-round deterrent to intercept threats to UK airspace, and marries the most up-to-date production techniques and materials with state-of-the-art technology. The result is the most advanced, manoeuvrable and efficient multi-role combat aircraft currently in service anywhere.
With the full cooperation of the RAF, author Antony Loveless has entered the world of the Typhoon to give readers a compelling insight into what makes it such a potent warplane. He lifts the inspection panels to discover how the Typhoon works, meets the pilots to understand what it’s like to fly and operate, and rolls up his sleeves with the engineers to learn what it takes to keep it flying.
The Typhoon can go from brakes off to 40,000ft in just 90 seconds, and the aircraft’s incredible manoeuvrability at speed exposes pilots to up to 9G – enough to crush their internal organs were it not for the state of the art G-suit that keeps them alive in such strenuous conditions.
But the Typhoon is not just fast in a straight line – it can out-manoeuvre anything else in the skies. This manoeuvrability is born of its relaxed stability design, which enables the aircraft to change its attitude and angle of bank at lightning-speed. This is made possible by the Typhoon’s inherently unstable design; it requires 70 on-board computers just to keep it flying.
The RAF engineers who look after this aircraft refer to it as ‘plug and play’. They’re not so much mechanics as software engineers because in 90% of cases where a system or display fails, rather than checking under the bonnet, they will press ‘Ctrl-Alt-Delete’.
The manual includes unique insight from pilots as to just what it feels like to fly. Flight Lieutenant Adam Crickmore says:
‘The Typhoon is a simply astonishing aircraft to fly, an absolute dream. There’s nothing you can compare it to – the closest analogy I can think of is that it would be like going from a bicycle to a Bugatti Veyron.’
It is not just the pilots that are astounded by the jet’s abilities; air traffic controllers struggle to keep tabs on the Typhoons as they travel faster than radars can track them, and can descend vertically, making them almost impossible to track.
The book reveals information about the Typhoon’s first combat deployment in Libya during the Arab Spring in 2011, as the jets enforced the no-fly zone across the country and attacked several ground-based targets.
A detachment of Typhoons was deployed in London throughout the Olympic Games of 2012 ready to protect the skies over the capital, and the Falkland Islanders also benefit from the constant protection of a flight of Typhoons.
If you’re expecting a traditional Haynes Manual with an engineering bias and an in-depth analysis ‘under the hood’, you’ll be both disappointed and inspired. Disappointed, because this aircraft doesn’t really do ‘mechanical’ in the conventional sense. Inspired, because the Typhoon redraws the boundaries.