Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

THE Eurofighter programme, has been left without funding in current German budget plans, for 1997 confirms the defence ministry.

While the Government is contractually obliged to complete development funding for the Eurofighter EF2000, the ministry says that production investment - due to get the go-ahead at the end of this year - may be delayed, or even cancelled, because of defence cuts.

"We have to ask ourselves whether we have the money," says the ministry, but it admits that a final 1997 budget plan has not yet been completed, and will not be confirmed until after the parliamentary summer recess.

A decision not to proceed with the production-investment phase of the programme at the end of this year would incense the UK and Italy, which want the EF2000 in service as a soon as possible.

The 1997 budget has been reduced to DM46.6 billion ($30 billion) compared with earlier expectations of DM48.4 billion, sparking fears that at least one major defence-procurement programme will be dropped. Fears for the Helios 2/Horus reconnaissance-satellite programme and the Eurocopter Tiger battlefield helicopter have already emerged.

The ministry confirms that five other programmes have also been called into question: the PARS 3 long-range anti-armour missile (Trigat); development of the STN Atlas Taifun unmanned air vehicle; the MAW/Apache stand-off weapon; and the Tornado Self-Protection Jammer.

Source: Flight International