A NEW ‘future proof’ combat aircraft has taken to the skies after being manufactured in East Lancashire.

The latest Typhoon, known as the Tranche 3, includes hundreds of under-the-skin changes including an E-scan Radar which includes higher levels of multi-target tracking.

A fuel dump system has also been installed, allowing a pilot to jettison fuel in an emergency situation.

Provision for fibre optic cabling has been included which will allow greater integration with future generations of weapons.

Mark Kane, who is BAE Systems combat air managing director, said: “For casual observers the aircraft is little changed from its sleek predecessor.

“But it has a number of provisions that will allow it to take on additional capability in the future.

“One of the few visual clues is a number of small panels on the fuselage which are there to accommodate the fitting of conformal fuel tanks.

“Once fitted, these would give the aircraft greater range and free up positions under the aircraft for larger or additional weapons.

At the nose a new internal structure has been built and work has been carried out on power, cooling and electronics so that a new E-Scan radar could easily be accommodated.”

The first Tranche 3 has been produced for the RAF by the Eurofighter consortium and was assembled at BAE Systems, Samlesbury.

Under the Tranche 3A contract, which was signed in 2009, a total of 112 aircraft have been ordered for the four European partner nations of Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, with 40 aircraft bound for the RAF.