Graham Warwick/MUNICH

Eurofighter has begun formal talks with Greece over its planned purchase of 60-80 Typhoon fighters. A contract is not expected to be signed until this time next year.

A team led by DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa) visited Athens last week for the first discussions since the Greek Government announced in February that it had selected the Eurofighter to meet its long-term fighter needs.

"Greece is interested in knowing how early it can get the aircraft," says Eurofighter managing director Brian Phillipson. The answer will determine how much Greece will need to spend on a near-term fighter purchase - additional Dassault Mirage 2000s or Lockheed Martin F-16s - and how much it has available to spend on Eurofighters, he says.

Deliveries of aircraft with the initial air defence operational capability to the four partner nations are to begin in 2002, followed in 2004 by the full multi-role operational capability Eurofighter. "We could give access to the aircraft before 2004," says Phillipson. "The four nations are very supportive of exports, and we could use their aircraft to provide early training and tactics development for the Greeks, to give them a running start," he says.

Greece is also interested in a substantial industrial involvement in the aircraft.

Eurofighter will submit a bid for 20 Typhoons, plus up to 10 options, to Norway by the end of May. The aircraft is competing against Lockheed Martin's Block 50 Plus F-16. The offer will include industrial offset proposals, and Phillipson says the company has been given permission to invite Norwegian companies to bid to supply equipment for the "massive" support phase of the programme.

A Norwegian decision is expected at the end of the year, and deliveries could begin as early as 2003.

It has not been decided from which of the four assembly lines the Norwegian Typhoons would be delivered.

Norway wants both the infrared search and track sensor and defensive aids subsystem, which are not currently planned to be installed on German aircraft. One option, he says, is to ship "green" German-assembled aircraft to the UK for final outfitting and delivery.

Norway also wants a targeting pod, and Eurofighter says it is already under contract to draw up the specification for a new electro-optical designation pod that would be carried by Spanish and UK aircraft.

Source: Flight International