YOU wouldn’t think that the Typhoon would need any extra ‘zoom’.
Each engine on the fighter jet has a staggering 13,500 lbf of dry thrust. The result is that when a pilot throws the throttle forward, they can fly faster than the speed of sound – even in a vertical climb. The jets are such an asset to the UK that if an engine on one of them is damaged, a phonecall is made direct to the Prime Minister to update him. With each engine costing around £5 million and each jet around £126 million over the course of its lifetime, it’s clear to see why the forces are under such budget pressures.
The RAF’s Typhoon Display Team felt the brunt of these budget pressures earlier this year when they were told that they could do displays but they couldn’t have any funds for vehicles. Transport is essential for the team, which needs to get to airports all over the UK. Although the pilot, Flt Lt Tim Clement can fly himself there, the jet still needs the support of the display manager, the display engineer manager, a five-person engineer team, a two-person ground support systems engineer team and a two-person PR team. Without cars, the team was going nowhere.
In steps Mazda Motors UK. Famed for it’s Zoom-Zoom strapline the carmaker has provided the Team with a Mazda5 (flexible seating for up to 7 with twin sliding doors) and two CX-7s (5 seat Sports Utility Vehicle) to support the Team’s activities in 2011. Mazda has enjoyed partnering with aviation before after sponsoring the World Aerobatic Championships and the British Aerobatic Association so for them to be involved with the pilot and crew of one of the world’s best fighter jets is a real joy. There’s also a design connection too – the sleek lines of fighter jets are often used in cars. Take Mazda’s Furai concept for instance (video here). Then there’s the philosopy too. Mazda once famously said, “If it’s not worth driving it’s not worth building” which is similar to the aviator’s quote of , “If it looks right, it’ll fly right”. The Typhoon certainly looks the part and based on what the pilots say, it’s an absolute dream to fly too.
The cars will be used for transporting kit, personnel and computer support equipment for the Typhoon and are already being used for pre-season travel, such as trips to use the specialised BAE Systems simulator and team meetings. The team expects to cover 8000 miles – in a very short time. All three cars have also been decorated in stunning livery with a 3D-effect Typhoon jet emblazoned down the side. Sergeant Liam Whelan, the Typhoon Display Engineering Manager, was positively grinning ear to ear when he found out that Mazda was supplying the cars.
“The busy 2011 season will involve travel to display venues across the UK, Northern Ireland and Europe, therefore having the three Mazda vehicles for team use is invaluable. The comfortable and spacious Mazda CX-7 and the Mazda5 with its flexible seating and sliding rear doors are ideal for transporting our team personnel, their kit and computer support equipment for the Typhoon aircraft.”
The team’s Display Manager, Flying Officer Gregor Ogston, explains that at seaside shows the pilot and engineers will be located in a different location to the PR team with the nearest airport often some distance from the main event. He says,
“The Mazda vehicles ensure that the Display Pilot and I can quickly travel with all our flying equipment to meet the thousands of spectators who have turned up to support the team.”
It’s clear that the without the cars, the display team wouldn’t be able to function this year as Wing Commander Al Seymour, Officer Commanding 29 (Reserve) Squadron says.
“The Typhoon Display Team carries out an important role in promoting the excellence of the Royal Air Force’s equipment, personnel and ethos. The association with Mazda ensures that the Display Team can conduct these tasks to the highest professional standards due to the support provided by the three vehicles.”
Even though the Typhoon won’t be flying at airshows this year because of the operations in Libya, the team itself will still be attending to talk and meet with visitors. There also may be a chance that the displays are re-instated “as soon as operational circumstances allow”.
Keep up to date with the Typhoon Display Team herePhotos by James Lipman