One of NATO’s best tactical aircraft has gotten a large boost in performance, thanks to a new Aerodynamic Modification Kit (AMK) from Airbus Defense and Space.

The modified Eurofighter Typhoon, a multi, or swing role aircraft already known for its excellent maneuverability all while carrying an impressive array of weapons, was flown from the company’s test facilities in Manching, Germany.

The enhancements involved the addition of leading edge root extensions, blending the area where the wing meets the fuselage, and enlarged strakes on the fuselage above the engine inlets.

While the modifications may not look like much, they resulted in a huge boost in the airplane’s aerodynamic performance and load-carrying capability.

The idea was to improve the Typhoon’s already stellar turn rate and radius, and the 36 sorties flown yielded impressive results, as Eurofighter Project Pilot Raffale Beltrame describes: “We saw angle of attack values around 45% greater than on the standard aircraft, and roll rates up to 100% higher, all leading to increased agility. The handling qualities appeared to be markedly improved, providing more maneuverability, agility and precision while performing tasks representative of in-service operations.”

A German Air Force Typhoon taxies in following a Red Flag-Alaska mission. The German Air Force is one of several nations which currently operate the Eurofighter solely in an air superiority role.
A German Air Force Typhoon taxies in following a Red Flag-Alaska mission. The German Air Force is one of several nations which currently operate the Eurofighter solely in an air superiority role.

Considering the already stunning performance of the aircraft, this upgrade unlocks even more of the Typhoon’s potential. And they’re not finished yet: the AMK is only one part of the Eurofighter Enhanced Maneuverability (EFEM) program, which is specifically designed to keep the Typhoon ahead of its competitors like Dassault’s Rafale.

The French offering has made huge strides recently after a long period of abysmal (meaning: none) export sales, with Egypt, Qatar, and India all placing orders for the twin-engine Rafale which features the same general configuration as Eurofighter’s Typhoon.

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On the surface it seems like a little bit goes a long way in this instance, but since the price tag associated with the modifications has not been revealed, it’s tough to say whether or not the cost is worth the added capability that it offers. So far none of the countries that currently operate the Typhoon have taken the plunge and splurged on the agility upgrade for their current Eurofighter fleets.

Other upgrades in the works that may be even more beneficial as part of the EFEM include weapons systems and a new Captor E-Scan radar from BAE Systems. In addition to being a major upgrade for current operators, these upgrades will help position the Eurofighter in upcoming buys from countries like Finland, Belgium, and Bahrain, who are all looking to upgrade their fighter fleets in the coming years.

An RAF Typhoon ready to take the runway for a night mission during Red Flag
An RAF Typhoon ready to take the runway for a night mission during Red Flag

Just like all US-built aircraft, the Eurofighter will continue to be upgraded throughout its lifespan as a tactical aircraft.Both the Royal Air Force and German Air Force have brought their Typhoons over to the US for Red Flag exercises recently, as the swing-role fighter continues to mature as a deadly weapons system and integrates with various NATO and partner nations. With deliveries of the modern European fighter still continuing, the story of the Typhoon has many chapters yet to be written.