Eurofighter signs Typhoon ground attack upgrade deal

An RAF Typhoon flies at low-level at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, in this December 17, 2004 file photo. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Friday it had signed a contract to transform RAF Typhoon fighter planes into an advanced multi-role aircraft, incorporating advanced laser technology and precision munitions. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - The Eurofighter consortium has signed an upgrade contract valued at about 830 million pounds to enable Typhoon fighters jets to attack ground targets, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

The work will include installation of lasers for designating targets, precision munitions and equipment needed for interoperability, the ministry said in a statement.

“With this contract, attention has turned to the development of a ground attack role,” Paul Drayson, minister for defence procurement, said in a statement.

Work on Typhoon jets for the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) will be worth about 325 million pounds and deliveries are expected early in the next decade, it said.

The contract was agreed between the Eurofighter GmbH consortium and the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA), on behalf of the four Typhoon partner nations -- Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The consortium is made up of BAE Systems, Airbus parent EADS and Italy’s Finmeccanica.

The Typhoon was accepted into service in 2003 by the RAF, which received its 40th aircraft last month. The aircraft will begin air defence duties in Britain later this year.

Additional reporting by Jason Neely