The Eurofighter consortium has made its first move leading to the production of 124 Tranche 3B aircraft for Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and been the subject of early interest from the Serbian defence ministry.
An initial proposal for the planned final batch of the combat aircraft was submitted to the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency last month, says export future business manager Rob Wells. This will negotiate with the industrial consortium on behalf of the partner nations over the next year or so, with a contract signature needed by late 2011.
This will ensure that the Eurofighter partner companies do not encounter a production gap after completing the programme's last Tranche 3A examples around mid-2016, Wells says.
Representing the remaining aircraft contained within a four-nation umbrella contract for 620 Eurofighters, the Tranche 3B examples are likely to be in a similar configuration to the 124 Tranche 3A aircraft ordered late last year. The UK has funded a change proposal to have its examples built with provisions for an active electronically scanned array radar, Wells confirms.
Meanwhile, Serbian officials are at the show looking at possible candidates for a domestic fighter requirement likely to total around 20 aircraft. Eurofighter responded to a request for information from Belgrade in April, and a delegation visited the company here on Tuesday.
One of the service's Soko S4 Super Galebs is in the static display at the show, and Serbian officials will also be meeting with other manufacturers at ILA.
Wells says the RFI did not specify the fleet size or delivery time for a future acquisition, which would look to replace the Serbian air force's remaining RSK MiG-21s and MiG-29s. With Belgrade pursuing EU membership, a fighter acquisition could potentially also be achieved by sourcing secondhand aircraft from one of the Eurofighter operating nations.
Italy is already sponsoring a bid to promote such aircraft to Romania, in an effort to persuade the nation to reverse a recent decision to buy used Lockheed Martin F-16s.