(Image: Kevin Mape; dismantled Eurofighter Typhoon ZJ922)
In October 2016, the same month that a 9-year-old Typhoon T3 was officially reduced to produce (RTP) at RAF Coningsby, another Eurofighter was seen departing the airfield by road. Eurofighter Typhoon ZJ922 arrived at Coningsby on February 27, 2006. Her dismantled airframe was trucked out of the front-line base on three low-loaders, bound for BAE Systems’ plant at Warton in Lancashire, on October 5th this year. The airframe hasn’t flown since 2014. It’s uncertain whether she’s been grounded permanently or will be returned to flight.
ZJ922 was built as a Typhoon F2 as part of the Tranche 1 production run. The aircraft first flew on January 6, 2006. Reportedly one of the first two Typhoon jets taken on charge by No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron (the other being ZJ918/QO-L), the Block 2 aircraft was later upgraded to FGR4 standard, and received the R2 retrofit to bring her to Block 5 capability.
(Image: Kevin Mape)
ZJ922 was damaged in 2014, and was later used as a source of spare parts in the Typhoon Sustainment Fleet, which manages a handful of stored jets at RAF Coningsby. According to an August 2015 response to a freedom of information request, ZJ922 and another Typhoon (ZJ940 – which has reportedly not flown since its delivery to the RAF on September 20, 2007) were at the time being assessed by BAE Systems for possible return to flight.
More than a year later, ZJ940 continues to languish in storage, while Typhoon ZJ922 – still wearing the markings of 3 (F) Squadron and coded QO-C – was photographed departing Coningsby by road in October 2016. The 10-year-old combat jet was trucked to BAE Systems’ facility at Warton, reportedly for use training Saudi personnel. It’s unclear whether the aircraft will be repaired and returned to service, or remain a ground instructional airframe.
(Image: Kevin Mape)
Though some early Typhoons aren’t yet a decade old, the British government had initially planned to retire its Tranche 1 fleet by 2020. But the MOD pledged earlier this year to retain enough Tranche 1 Typhoons to create two additional front-line squadrons, as part of the RAF’s quick reaction alert (QRA) duties.
Despite this, a number of Tranche 1 jets (probably the fleet of early two-seat trainers) are likely to be grounded permanently. A number of Tranche 1 Typhoons have already arrived at RAF Shawbury for storage, including ZJ910, ZJ911, ZJ925, ZJ932 and ZJ936. Whether these airframes will fly again in the future remains to be seen. Also at Shawbury is the fuselage of ZJ943, which was written off in a landing accident in the US in 2008. The aircraft’s tail fin is displayed within the 11 Squadron complex at Coningsby.
Time will tell what becomes of Typhoon ZJ922, and other airframes in both the Sustainment Fleet at RAF Coningsby and those in storage inside Shawbury’s cavernous hangars.
Keep Reading: Browse more Eurofighter articles here.