Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

THE GERMAN Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) is warning of "catastrophic consequences" if Germany does not commit to Eurofighter series production this year.

In an attack on recent defence-budget cuts, BDLI defence technology forum chairman Werner Heinzmann - who is also president of Daimler-Benz Aerospace's (DASA's) defence and civil systems and space systems divisions - fears that the entire German aerospace industry could sink into "international insignificance" if investment is not increased. In July, the Bonn Government cut the 1997 defence budget by DM1.8 billion ($1.16 billion), with further cuts totalling DM7 billion up to the year 2000 (Flight International, 17-23 July).

The BDLI statement is seen as the start of a major campaign to secure the future of threatened procurement programmes such as the Eurocopter Tiger and NH90 helicopters, the Helios 2 and Horus reconnaissance satellites and the Future Large Aircraft.

Heinzeman singles out the Eurofighter decision as especially urgent. "A decision on production must be made this year. Anything else would have catastrophic consequences," he warns.

Diplomatic sources in Bonn say that if the decision drags into 1997, programme cost estimates will be invalidated and the danger of a moratorium will increase.

While the Eurofighter is included in the draft budget for 1997, no funding has been allocated. Discussions are under way with DASA about the amount of funding for 1997, which the Government hopes will be backed by industry cash. Before the clampdown, the defence ministry had planned to put DM350 million towards the Eurofighter in 1997.

Source: Flight International