Stewart Penney/TURIN

Production of Eurofighter Typhoons for the export market could be rationalised as a result of Alenia's decision to merge its airframe activities with EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space). The new entity, which brings together three of the four Eurofighter nations, could also result in a number of wider programme savings.

Labelled JV Company and due to be formed in January, the new entity brings together Alenia, Casa and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa). Each, however, is likely to retain an identity within Eurofighter so the partner nations have a "national presence" on the management board.

Alenia's Eurofighter programme director Gianfranco Vinci says export production could be concentrated at one or two locations. Initially, each country will probably retain an assembly line as the governments have requested "a national company as a delivery entity". In addition, investment has been made to create the lines and an earlier study revealed only a 1-1.5% saving from reducing the number.

"We could combine export final assembly lines. I think we should go that way," says Vinci. The proposal was discussed for the first time at a Eurofighter board meeting held last month.

Erwin Obermeier, Dasa's head of military aircraft, says no firm plans are in place for the EADS/Alenia company, but it could ease some of the tough workshare issues that continue to dog the programme as each nation strives to ensure work promised in the production contract signed in 1998 is achieved.

Obermeier foresees rationalisation, but stops short of predicting closures. He says the four partners' flight test centres will remain, but "maybe we will concentrate the type of flights at each centre" - for instance, hot weather work could be concentrated in Spain.

• Col Vittorio Iannotta, of the Italian air force Eurofighter service introduction team, says that, like its German equivalent, the service is starting to review use of the aircraft in the swing role, where a fighter can take off equipped for air defence or a strike mission. Initial plans called for the fighter to be used purely for air defence, but now two of the air force's five Eurofighter squadrons will operate swing-role missions, he says.

Source: Flight International