Eurofighter signed a new, five-year support contract with NETMA, the NATO management agency that represents the four European partner nations in the combat aircraft program. As before, the Eurofighter industrial partners will deliver support to the individual air forces. Alenia values its part of the deal, to support the Italian air force, at more than $660 million. BAE Systems says its contract to support the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is worth $708.5 million. EADS values its future support to the German and Spanish air forces at more than $1.1 billion. The contract does not cover EJ200 engine support, which is arranged separately by the partners in the Eurojet consortium.
Eurofighter says the new deal replaces a number of shorter-term contracts and “will focus on performance and affordability.” Last year, the British government’s National Audit Office criticized support arrangements for the RAF’s Typhoon fleet, describing “a complicated suite of 11 contracts.” Eurofighter says the new contract will improve the delivery of support services and help in future export marketing. When India recently chose the Rafale over the Typhoon, reports in the Indian media suggested that the French jet’s acquisition and support costs were 22 to 25 percent lower.
Support arrangements for the Typhoon differ among the four partner nations. In the UK, BAE Systems signed an availability contract in March 2009. A Eurofighter spokesman told AIN that this contract adapted well to the increased flying caused by NATO’s air operation over Libya. “The resilience of the deployed [RAF] fleet far exceeded expectations,” he said. Italian air force Typhoons also performed well in that operation, with 201 out of 203 tasked missions completed, he added. BAE Systems said, “There are studies ongoing on how to improve availability and reliability to maximize flying hours and reduce cost.”
Separately, BAE Systems told Reuters that Saudi Arabia has now agreed that assembly of the remaining 48 Typhoons to be delivered can be accomplished in the UK. But negotiations continue over price, the addition of new capability to some aircraft and the creation of a maintenance facility in the Kingdom, the company added. AIN reported last January that both Saudi Arabia and potential customer Oman were requesting that their Typhoons be equipped to Tranche 3 standard, including an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. In an attempt to seal a revised Saudi deal, a succession of British government and industry officials have visited Saudi Arabia in recent months. BAE’s top management, led by chairman Dick Olver, was there late last month.