THE GERMAN parliamentary budget committee has finally cleared Government funds to cover the costs of the 1992 reorientation of the Eurofighter programme.

The committee has twice rejected the proposal to pay DM375 million ($270 million) - a sum agreed after months of wrangling between the defence ministry and industry - to cover the cost of defence minister Volker Ruhe's decision to delay the programme by two years and reduce the specification of aircraft due for the German air force.

The funding was opposed by Free Democrat and Social Democrat politicians, following the publication of a critical report on the programme by the German Government's financial watchdog, the Bundesrechnungshof (BRH), in early May.

The report led to demands for further clarification from the Bonn defence ministry of the amount requested, amid public fears arising from the BRH report that the unit price of the aircraft could soar to DM170 million - DM80 million more than Ruhe's target price.

The decision also clears the way for signing by Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK of the long-overdue approval for the reorientation, known as MoU Four. The signing will clear the way for the production-investment phase of the programme, signalling the opening round of long-anticipated haggling over workshare allocation.

Germany hopes to maintain a production workshare of some 30%, despite a reduction in its expected order from 250 to 140 aircraft.

Source: Flight International