Eurofighter can penalize suppliers

 - June 20, 2007, 12:06 PM

Eurofighter GmbH has finally been empowered to write real subcontracts with penalty clauses for Typhoon production with the four partner airframe companies (Alenia, BAE Systems, EADS-Germany and EADS-Spain) that are also its shareholders. “It’s a revolution! We’re becoming a normal type of business now,” Aloysius Rauen, the CEO of Eurofighter, told Aviation International News here yesterday. A new Future Capabilities Program (FCP) (Phase 1) worth O1.2 billion that was recently agreed with the four nations should benefit from the new relationship.

The complicated and bureaucratic nature of the Eurofighter program has often been criticized, including an unusually frank public scolding of the industrial partners by the British defense procurement minister last November. But the NETMA procurement system set up by the four European nations is equally to blame, although Rauen won’t say so in public.

The FCP program will add a new software architecture for the aircraft’s mission computer; a full laser-designation pod capability; the integration of Paveway IV and EGBU-16 smart bombs; and enhancements to the multifunction information display system (MIDS); GPS; defensive aids sub system (DASS); and communications suite, including net-centric functionality. Eurofighter will deliver the FCP Phase 1 in 2011-2012. A second phase to the FCP is envisaged, to include integration of the Meteor BVRAAM (beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile); the Storm Shadow and Taurus air-to-ground cruise missiles; and the ability to launch Paveway smart bombs at supersonic speed.

The FCP is separate from the production contracts. Eurofighter is now delivering the last of the Tranche 1 aircraft, and Tranche 2 aircraft are well into production. The 120 production aircraft that have flown have now amassed more than 25,000 flying hours. Rauen expects to deliver a proposal for Tranche 3 to NETMA by the end of the year and hopes to have it agreed and signed by early 2009. Not for the first time, he emphasized that the nations have already signed “a legally binding umbrella contract” to proceed with Tranche 3.

Rauen said that Eurofighter was working hard to sell the Typhoon to Denmark and Norway, although these countries are still partners on the F-35 program. The other countries seen by Eurofighter as near-medium term export prospects are Bulgaria, Greece, India, Japan, Romania and Switzerland.