The German parliamentary defence and budget committees have added their approvals to the Bonn Government's recent go-ahead for the DM23 billion ($13 billion) procurement of 180 Eurofighter EF2000s.

The procurement was approved despite opposition from Social Democrat (SPD) and Green Party parliamentarians. The budget committee passed the programme by 22 votes to 17.

The significant SPD vote has divided as expected, despite the public insistence by faction chief Rudolf Scharping that the party would oppose the programme.

The Eurofighter is expected to be cleared finally in a parliamentary vote on the 1998 budget on 26 November, allowing the production agreement to be signed in December. The German budget includes DM800 million for the programme.

The votes have coincided with the appearance in the German press of fresh criticisms of the project, citing the recent Federal Audit Office (BRH) report, officially dated 22 October. In the latest attacks, the BRH predicts that the programme costs will rise above DM30 billion, and that the aircraft is 10% overweight.

German defence minister Volker Rühe says that the BRH personnel are not qualified to make such judgements, while Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) and Eurofighter vehemently refute most of the BRH accusations.

Dasa does admit, however, that the aircraft is "...slightly overweight".

Source: Flight International