More Eurofighters Ordered, but Cost Ceiling Now Reached

 - August 20, 2009, 5:32 AM

Eurofighter and Eurojet finally secured the long-delayed contract on 31 July for Tranche 3A, comprising a further 112 Typhoon aircraft and 241 EJ200 engines worth some €9 billion ($12.7 billion). Eurofighter CEO Enzo Casolini said the deal would help secure 100,000 highly skilled jobs at 400 large, medium and small companies throughout Europe. Partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK have now ordered 472 production aircraft, and export sales of 15 to Austria and 72 to Saudi Arabia have also been achieved. The four partner nations originally envisioned eventually securing orders for 620 aircraft, but the latest contract dims hopes for that possibility. The production MoU signed in December 1997 indicated the partners’ goal, but, according to the UK Ministry of Defence, the document also included a cost ceiling. By ordering 40 more aircraft costing about £3 billion ($4.9 billion) in Tranche 3A, the UK “will exhaust the remaining funds under this ceiling and therefore our obligations under the MoU have been met,” said Air Commodore Chris Bushell, head of the UK’s Typhoon acquisition team. Moreover, the partner nations have agreed that the UK can count 24 of the Saudi aircraft as part of its production commitment. These aircraft are being diverted from the UK’s order for Tranche 2, awarded in December 2004. The RAF will therefore eventually receive 160 Typhoons, down from the 232 originally envisioned, a saving of about £4 billion (6.6 billion).

As reported in our Paris editions the Tranche 3A contract was further delayed because the UK pressed its partners to join in seeking big savings in logistics support costs for the Typhoon. Bushell said that the contract now includes “a binding commitment from industry, aiming for a 50-percent reduction in avionics from 2009 to 2014 and by 70-percent (thereafter), and a 30-percent reduction for engine support from 2009.”