Farnborough Air Show

Partner nations pressured to close Eurofighter deal

 - October 16, 2008, 6:20 AM

Eurofighter CEO Aloysius Rauen made a strong plea here yesterday for the four partner nations–the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain–to close the deal for 236 more Typhoon combat jets. “My highest goal is to ensure the continuity of production. That way we avoid extra cost,” he said. Rauen confirmed that the UK and Italy have requested information on what it would cost to buy fewer airplanes–or none at all.

All the contract documents are now at the NETMA procurement agency, Rauen confirmed. He remains confident that they can be signed by year-end. He also expressed confidence that the four nations that signed an “umbrella” contract in 1998 will buy the specified 630 Typhoons.

Meanwhile, separate negotiations are underway for the P2E “Product Enhancement” package that adds new capability. Rauen has put Brian Phillipson in charge of what he described as a “transformation in the way we do development.” Meanwhile, Trevor King, another BAE Systems employee, takes over from Phillipson as COO.

Rauen also revealed a new approach to supporting the Typhoon in service. “The original integrated logistics system was set up a long time ago,” he said. “Now we have in-service experience, and the existing arrangements are not sustainable.” Rauen added that the new set-up would have challenging targets. He may have been referring to the UK, where BAE Systems is negotiating a “Typhoon Availability Service” with the Ministry of Defence, to comprise a mix of national and international (e.g. four-nation) contracts.

Recent operational milestones for the Typhoon include:

• Initial air-ground capability declared by the Royal Air Force

• German air force Typhoons now on air defense alert (The UK, Italy and Spain achieved this milestone last year.)

• Nine of 12 aircraft delivered to Austria, the first export customer, which has put them onto what it calls “air policing duties,” replacing loaned F-5s.

Eurofighter has responded to requests for proposals from India (126 aircraft) and Switzerland (up to 30). Other near-term export possibilities are Brazil (up to 30), Japan (up to 50), Turkey (up to 40), and three eastern European countries. According to a recent report, the RAF might turn in its Tranche 1 Typhoons for export to these countries, to help make the contract affordable. As for Greece, which selected the Typhoon without competition a few years ago and then backed away, “there are new developments…a certain dynamic,” said Rauen.

No new complex weapons system enters service without some glitches. In the case of the Typhoon, they include now-solved undercarriage extension problems, according to Maurizio De Mitri, Eurofighter’s COO for capabilities. However, the RAF’s aircraft at least are still operating with gear extension restrictions at the main Typhoon base, RAF Coningsby.