Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

GERMANY, ITALY, Spain and the UK have signed the long-overdue re-oriented development contract for the Eurofighter 2000 programme.

The new contract formalises changes in the programme structure introduced with the downgrading and extension of the programme in 1992.

Eurofighter says that the new contract conditions "...establish more clearly a tauter price regime up to the completion of aircraft development, with payments tied to the achievement of significant, pre-determined, milestones".

The contract is a pre-requisite for the production-investment phase of the programme. The partner nations are now awaiting the final word on a solution to the debate over Germany's production work share before submitting a new request for quotations to industry, which will then provide a unit price for the aircraft.

Programme officials are optimistic that Germany will decide to increase its production off-take from the current 140 aircraft, to about 180, to maintain a 30% production work share.

German defence minister Volker Ruhe has not yet formally backed the idea because of the difficulty of presenting what may be perceived as a climb down on his part to a budget-conscious parliament.

Ruhe was a key architect of the cost-cutting reorientation of the Eurofighter programme, and reduced Germany's anticipated production off-take from 250 to 140 aircraft.

Source: Flight International