Pictured: The 75m lightning conductor that is testing the Eurofighter's mettle

How does the RAF ensure that its Eurofighters can survive a lightning strike whilst travelling at Mach 2?

By zapping one with 200,000 amps at a top-secret bunker in Warton, Lancashire.

At the Electronic Warfare Testing Facility military as well as commercial aircraft are zapped with artificial electricity to test their mettle, but since a Eurofighter can travel twice as fast as a Boeing 747 its tests are far harsher.

Pictured: The 75m lightning conductor that is testing the Eurofighter's mettle

By Rob Waugh
15th March 2009
Daily Mail

How does the RAF ensure its new Eurofighters can survive a direct lightning strike and stay intact while doing Mach 2 at 65,000ft? By zapping one with 200,000 amps at a top-secret bunker in Lancashire.

Test target: The Eurofighter stands in position at the underground facility (click to enlarge)

The lead-lined walls (1) of the Electronic Warfare Testing Facility in Warton, Lancashire, are covered in treated foam-rubber cones to prevent electromagnetic radiation leaking out - or in. This facility is one of dozens used to test the Eurofighter.

The tests carried out using these mobile generators (2) ensure the plane can withstand electromagnetic pulses from nuclear weapons. A short, sharp burst of electricity of up to 200,000 amps simulates a lightning strike.

Commercial aircraft are also tested against lightning - but since the Eurofighter can fly twice as fast and 50 per cent higher than a Boeing 747, its lightning tests are far harsher.

The Eurofighter is largely made of carbon-fibre composites to keep it light. Special conduction channels throughout the aircraft (3) carry the current of a lightning strike to earth without damaging systems or accidentally rebooting the plane's computers.

The Eurofighter operating nations and number of Eurofighters each has

Britain - 232
Germany - 220
Italy - 121
Spain - 87
Saudi Arabia - 72
Austria - 15

In order that the fighter's electronic warfare systems can be tested in electronic 'silence', the isolated chamber is shielded against everything from radio to microwaves. Jets such as the Eurofighter carry so many sensors that they can also double as spy planes on the modern battlefield.

Electromagnetic pulse emitters (4) can be placed anywhere in the chamber - and the floor rotated - to simulate various surface-to-air missile attacks. The shielded space enables engineers to measure the Eurofighter's response - first, its sensors 'listen' for enemy radars, then the pilot can detect and track incoming threats, and deploy chaff, electronic rays or a decoy behind the plane.

(click to enlarge)

This unmanned hydraulic rig tests the 75m Eurofighter for stress, 24 hours a day - and the pictured airframe has already 'flown' 4,500 hours, more than any operational Eurofighter. Each wing is tested with up to 400 kilonewtons of force, the equivalent of balancing 50 small cars on them. In 6,000 hours of testing, the airframe will undergo the stresses of 30 years' flight - the lifetime of the plane
The Eurofighter is being built in three 'tranches' - batches comprising models of increasing capability - for the RAF and other forces around Europe. Developing the first Eurofighters took more than a decade, and the second and third tranches are still being tested in Britain and abroad.

Under scrutiny is their ability to handle everything from rain, hail and sand to bird strikes - with frozen chickens launched into the windshield at speed to test its resistance.

(click to enlarge)

Looks like a poor-man's Avro Arrow!
L Gilbert
Looks like a downsized Arrow. Good thing, too. Bigger aircraft, bigger target. Besides, it's a fighter; the Arrow was a bomber/interceptor/fighter depending on the configuration. As a fighter/interceptor, it was huge (26 meters by 15 meters. The 18s are about 17 by 12.3)
Good morning, Gilbert.
When I was a tad (well before dirt) not only could a kid buy baseball cards, he could also buy bubble-gum cards titled "Friend or Foe: Military Aircraft of the World." One of these propaganda cards was of the Avro - it was a favourite of mine!

Sometimes I wonder if Blackleaf would have written for them had he been around back then. But, I'm not sure how he would have labelled the Arrow!

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