In a potentially key development for the four-nation Eurofighter Typhoon project, the German parliament has granted approval for defence minister Peter Struck to sign a contract covering the Tranche 2 production of a further 68 aircraft for the German air force.
The commitment is believed to comprise an additional €250 million ($303 million) for enhancements to the aircraft's systems and engines, €115 million for continued technology development and €60 million to cover the integration of Taurus Systems' KEPD 350 cruise missile, which is also slated for use by the air force's Panavia Tornado fleet. Forty of the air force's new aircraft could also be delivered in a multirole fighter-bomber configuration in a development worth a further €520 million.
The four-nation Eurofighter consortium welcomed the German announcement and urged its partners Italy, Spain and the UK to speed their approval processes.
"The Tranche 2 contract is a key driver in maintaining the integrity of the European industrial supplier base and continuity of Eurofighter production in the four partner nations," it said. "It is vital that a contract is signed as soon as possible to maintain competitiveness and guarantee employment."
A key target for the consortium is to advance Tranche 2 negotiations during a round of talks scheduled to take place in Germany from 7-10 July. In addition to Germany's 68 aircraft, the 236-aircraft order will comprise 46 for Italy, 33 for Spain and 89 for the UK, which is believed to be the furthest away from approving its order.
Struck will be able to sign a Tranche 2 contract while the German parliament is in recess until later this year, when the deal would be subject to final approval.
CRAIG HOYLE / LONDON
Source: Flight International