The Eurofighter EF2000 has cleared the final political obstacle to a German signature on the production memorandum of understanding (MoU), expected to be signed later this month along with partners Italy, Spain and the UK.

On 26 November, the German parliament passed the 1998 defence budget, giving the all-clear to production-investment funding for the programme and rubber-stamping an earlier Government decision to proceed with the procurement of 180 aircraft for Germany. The 1998 budget includes DM847 million ($498 million) for the EF2000.

The vote was divided as expected, with significant opposition from Social Democrat and Green parliamentarians, and marks the end of an acrimonious political debate which has led to repeated programme delays, infuriating Germany's Eurofighter partners and forcing Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa)to fund its work on the aircraft with millions of deutschmarks from its own coffers.

Dasa chairman Manfred Bischoff welcomed the parliamentary decision as a "milestone" for European defence co-operation and a positive vote for Germany's industrial future.

Production investment should now get under way in 1998.

Source: Flight International