Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Germany is close to signing an agreement to rejoin the EuroDASS consortium developing the defensive aids subsystem for the Eurofighter. The move appears certain following defence minister Rudolf Scharping's decision to request parliamentary approval for the allocation of an initial DM380 million ($190 million) to fund Germany's re-entry.

Germany left the BAE Systems-led project several years ago, vowing to develop a cheaper defensive aids system for the Eurofighter. But early last year it revealed it was negotiating to rejoin the multi-national EuroDASS. One problem was that the German-developed DASS would not have been available until 2010, whereas the EuroDASS is expected to be ready around four years earlier.

A memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed after talks on how to allocate appropriate workshare to German industry have been completed. Also to be resolved is the level of development funding that needs to be provided by Germany after its absence.

"We anticipate that our industry will be given an appropriate share of development and production work, as well as in-service support," says the German Ministry of Defence.

Industry sources say that as well as funding issues, Germany's re-entry was delayed by concerns over the performance of the internally mounted EuroDASS. Some German defence officials claim the Dasa-designed, externally mounted Panavia Tornado self-protection jammer, developed for the German air force's Panavia Tornados and upgraded McDonnell Douglas F-4s, offers a superior jamming performance.

The officials also question whether workshare obligations have prevented a full transfer of knowledge between the EuroDASS industrial partners, possibly compromising its performance.

The defensive aids suite includes electronic counter and surveillance measures, missile approach warners, decoy systems, chaff and flare dispensers and laser warning.

• Among other German defence projects to be considered for approval by the parliamentary budget committee this year are NH Industries' NH90 helicopter initial series production (DM500 million) and the development of a combat search and rescue version of the helicopter (DM187 million).

Scharping is asking for an initial DM799 million to be allocated towards a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile for the Eurofighter, though Germany has yet to decide between rival suppliers Matra BAe Dynamics and Raytheon. About DM198 million is being requested to fund the conversion of Airbus A310 aircraft to a multi-role tanker/transport configuration by a DaimlerChrysler Aerospace/Lufthansa Technik consortium, for use by the German air force.

Source: Flight International