The Eurofighter Typhoon will form the cornerstone of European air power until well into the 21st century. Much experience of the type's main cocepts were proven by the BAe EAP technology demonstrator programme of the late 1980s. These concepts include an unstable delta canard configuration, active digital fly-by-wire control system, a HOTAS cockpit and highly capable though complex avionics that even include direct voice command input.
In June 1986 the Eurofighter consortium was formed by Germany, Italy, the UK and, later, Spain, to develop a new multi-role combat aircraft, optimised as a beyond visual range interceptor with a secondary ground-attack capability. Other consortia have been formed to develop the EJ200 engine, ECR90 multi-mode radar, IRST and advanced defensive aids sub-system (DAAS). DASS comprises an integrated package of missile approach, laser and radar-warning elements together with wingtip mounted ESM and electronic counter measures pods and fuselage-mounted chaff/flare dispensers and a towed radar decoy.
An initial 1988 contract covered construction of eight prototypes (to be built in all of the partner countres). Funding was divided in proportion to the various national industrial participations, with respective national requirements being finally settled on in 2000 as a maximum of 297 for the UK, 180 for Germany, 130 for Italy and 103 for Spain. In addition, an export order for 60 Typhoons plus 30 options for Greece was signed in 1999. It was also ordered by Saudi Arabia.
The first two Eurofighter 2000 prototypes, completed in Germany and the UK as DA.1 and DA.2 respectively, undertook their maiden flights on 27 March and 6 April 1994. These have been followed by six further prototypes (including a pair of two-seaters) that are used as testbeds for the EJ200 engine, ECR90 radar and for avionics and weapons integration. In 1998 Eurofighter 2000 received the name Typhoon, and the first production aircraft rolled out in the second half of 2001.