Europe's long-running crisis on the four-nation Eurofighter programme appears set to end next month, with the consortium reporting that all parties are "within weeks" of approving a draft contract for the Tranche 2 production of 236 aircraft.

EADS chief financial officer Hans Peter Ring says the Eurofighter partner companies "expect to sign the contract in December" with the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency. "Everybody is now ready to sign," he says.

Budgetary difficulties in the UK had prevented the planned signature of the Tranche 2 deal earlier this year, but Eurofighter partner BAE Systems and the UK Ministry of Defence say outstanding issues are close to being resolved and that an agreement will be in place soon. If completed before year-end, the milestone will significantly boost the Eurofighter Typhoon's prospects of success in Singapore's new fighter contest, a decision on which is expected from early 2005 (Flight International, 5-11 October). The UK will later this month provide Singapore with detailed pricing and technical information on the Typhoon as outlined in the current draft contract.

The Tranche 2 approval will also enable partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK to deliver their first 18 export aircraft to Austria in accordance with Eurofighter's production contract, which is worth around €2 billion ($2.5 billion).




Source: Flight International