EADS Military Air Systems has confirmed that last last month in Oslo it presented a "tailored offer" for increased Norwegian industrial participation in the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft programme tied to the Nordic nation's potential purchase of the type.
EADS says its offer is the reply to a request for information from the Norwegian government and comes as Oslo is expressing serious reservations over its lack of industrial participation in the Lockheed martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.
EADS says the offer "includes numerous opportunities for participation" tied to possible purchase the aircraft, including "tailored delivery and payment terms as well as a variety of options for active involvement of Norwegian industry in Eurofighter technologies and offset offers".
Norway, along with Denmark, is conducting a formal fighter competition in the lead-up to a decision later this year on whether to commit to procurement of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter or acquire alternative aircraft to replace its F-16s. Gripen International has proposed a Nordic version of the JAS39 Gripen fighter, competitively priced (Flight International, 4-10 April).
The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence increased funding levels for its existing industrial participation in Eurofighter from €10.8 million ($13 million) to €23 million in June last year.
EADS dismissed the idea of Norway investing in a less expensive “Eurofighter lite” with reduced capabilities enabling Oslo to offset its initial investment in JSF, which would be lost if it exited the programme. "There are no such things as trimmed down export versions. We are offering all our customers exactly the same version of the aircraft that is being supplied to the Eurofighter nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK and also to our export customer Austria," says Johann Heitzmann, chief executive of Military Air Systems within the EADS Defence & Security Systems division.
Lockheed Martin has said that Norway would lose its delivery slots if it pulled out of the JSF system design and development phase of the JSF but EADS says the delivery schedule offered to Norway for Typhoon is "flexible," possibly allowing it to receive Typhoons around the same time as its planned JSF deliveries.
Under the terms of the Eurofighter collaborative agreements, EADS Military Air Systems, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems are committed to negotiate other industrial contracts on the basis of the relevant orders.
JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON