Saudi Arabia’s potential acquisition of 24 Eurofighter Typhoons to be drawn from the UK’s Tranche 2 production order for the type will not affect the Royal Air Force’s introduction of the multirole aircraft, according to the service’s senior ranking official.
“We have studied the proposal in great detail and are quite content that the impact on the RAF is containable,” says chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup. The aircraft – currently included within an understanding document detailed by the UK government late last year – would be drawn from early in the Tranche 2 deliveries, with the UK to receive direct replacements later in the same production run (Flight International, 3-9 January). “The first thing we would say to the [Eurofighter] consortium is: ‘can you speed your production rate?’,” Stirrup told Flight International during an 18 January briefing. Some spare production capacity on the four-nation programme has already been allocated to the Austrian air force’s 18-aircraft Typhoon procurement, with deliveries set to begin from late 2007.
■ A two-seat Typhoon trainer assigned to the UK’s 29Sqn operational conversion unit at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire sustained significant damage last week after its pilot was forced to make an emergency landing following a nose gear fault. The MoD says the extent of the damage is still “being assessed”, but that the UK’s remaining Typhoon fleet was not subject to operating restrictions following the 17 January incident.
CRAIG HOYLE / LONDON
Source: Flight International