Eurofighter chief executive Aloysius Rauen is today expected to welcome Norway's increased investment in the Typhoon programme.
The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence (RNMoD) initially agreed to invest up to E10.8 million ($13m) in the project in 2003, on the condition that Norwegian industry contributed a similar amount. It is now to increase funding levels for its industrial participation in the programme by a further E12.5 million.
The announcement fuels speculation that Norway will eventually replace its F-16s with the Eurofighter rather than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Despite its 2002 commitment to invest NKr1 billion ($145m) in JSF over 10 years, Norwegian industry has not won sub-contracts in the JSF's development. The RNMoD later reduced its contribution to the project by 50% and was reported to have told Lockheed Martin they would pull out of the JSF programme unless there were some changes.
The Eurofighter project seems to be reaping greater returns for the country's industry. Several Norwegian companies are already carrying out systems enhancement work on the Eurofighter programme, and the current industrial participation agreement covers six ongoing contracts.
"We continue to agree contracts with stakeholders in Norway, which will bring technology, jobs and enhanced aerospace engineering capability to industry," says Rauen. "As the capability of Eurofighter Typhoon develops throughout its service life, so the benefits in technology and capability will feed through to Norway's industrial base. This is a long-term partnership which embraces a range of stakeholders across Norway and the rest of Europe."
When Norway reaches a final decision in 2008, the deal will be the country's biggest ever single military order, worth an estimated NKr26bn to NKr38bn.