Initially deployed in the air-to- air role as the Typhoon F2, the aircraft now has a potent and precise multirole capability. The pilot can carry out many functions by voice command or through a handson stick and throttle system. Combined with an advanced cockpit and the HEA (Helmet equipment assembly) the pilot is superbly equipped for all aspects of air operations. Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain formally agreed to start development of the aircraft in 1988 with contracts for a first batch of 148 aircraft – of which 53 were for the RAF – signed ten years later. Deliveries to the RAF started in 2003 to 17(R) Sqn who were based at BAE Systems Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire (alongside the factory where the aircraft were assembled) while detailed development and testing of the aircraft was carried out. Formal activation of the first Typhoon Squadron at RAF Coningsby occurred on the 1st Jul 2005. The aircraft took over responsibility for UK QRA on 29 Jun 2007 and was formally declared as an advanced Air Defence platform on 1 Jan 2008. Initial production aircraft of the F2 Tranche 1 standard were capable of air-to-air roles only and were the first Typhoons to hold UK QRA duties. In order to fulfill a potential requirement for Typhoon to deploy to Op HERRICK, urgent single-nation work was conducted on Tranche 1 to develop an air-to-ground capability in 2008. Tranche 1 aircraft were declared as multi-role in Jul 2008, gaining the designation FGR4 (T3 2-seat variant), fielding the Litening Laser Designator Pod and Paveway 2, Enhanced Paveway 2 and 1000lb freefall class of weapons, Guns 1 × 27 mm Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon. All F2/T1 aircraft have been upgraded to FGR4/T3.