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Eurofighter rejects new control proposal

Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

THE Eurofighter consortium has decided to stop work on an alternative flight-control system (FCS) for the Eurofighter 2000, based on technology from the Daimler-Benz Aerospace (formerly DASA)/ Rockwell X-31 programme.

An FCS presentation to the Eurofighter management agency NEFMA was scheduled for 24 January, giving the partners an assessment of the feasibility of using advanced control-laws like those used in the X-31 programme to produce more compact and efficient flight control software for the Eurofighter.

Programme sources say that, while this would be technically feasible, the current FCS already "meets the current and future requirements" of the fighter. Any radical change of the system at this stage would incur an unacceptable financial and time penalty, it is understood.

The decision comes as the X-31 enhanced fighter manoeuvrability programme is winding down, because Rockwell and DASA are struggling to obtain funding for a follow-on programme.

The alternative FCS was a solo DASA initiative begun in late 1993, following development problems with Eurofighter's current FCS. The idea led to the construction of a laboratory model before the other Eurofighter partners were told of the work (Flight International, 20-26 April 1994).

Since then, British Aerospace and GEC-Marconi Avionics have been involved with DASA in assessing the concept's viability.

In a December letter to German state secretary for armaments and planning Jorg Schonbohm, US deputy defence secretary John Deutch rejected a German proposal for a $45 million X-31 follow-on programme. Schonbohm had earlier said Bonn was prepared to fund 50% of such a programme.

According to project sources, US-German talks on follow-on funding for the X-31 are to continue at the beginning of February. The X-31 has more than achieved the goals set down in the original memorandum of understanding, says one official, "-and the question is, can we now use the vehicle for different objectives of mutual interest".

Some industry observers saw the Eurofighter flight-control system as a means of giving the X-31 a better chance of survival. With further US backing looking questionable, there are fears that "-the X-31 will sink without a trace if DASA doesn't attach it to another programme", says a Bonn official.

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