Douglas Barrie/LONDON

THE UK GOVERNMENT is holding out an industrial olive branch to Germany in a move aimed at avoiding damaging disputes over work-share on the Eurofighter 2000 and the Future Large Aircraft (FLA).

Senior Whitehall sources say that the UK will be relatively flexible over the issue of work-share, rather than demanding that production work is based solely on how many aircraft are purchased.

The UK's procurement minister Roger Freeman and his German counterpart Jorg Schonbohm met their Italian and Spanish colleagues in Germany on the 5-6 February, to discuss the Eurofighter programme.

The ministers' principal task was to advance work on a new memorandum of understanding (MoU), made necessary by a 1992 decision to delay production by two years. The aim is to have the MoU completed by April.

Work-share is also likely to have been on the agenda. In the original agreement, workshare is directly proportional to production off-take and, with the German air force likely to purchase only 140 aircraft, rather than the 250 first planned, Germany's industrial stake would be considerably reduced.

Whitehall sources say that, while German work-share will have to be renegotiated and reduced, they are willing to take into account German investment in the overall programme.

They also raise the possibility of link between the Eurofighter work-share issue and the FLA. The aspirations of Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) to develop the wing for the FLA will be thwarted, if the UK commits fully to the programme.

Freeman also met senior French officials on 2 February to discuss the FLA. France is pressurising the UK to make a full commitment to the project. France's director of armaments Henri Conze has made it clear that failure by the UK to take a significant stake might compromise its position in the Airbus Industrie consortium.

Bonn sources say that DASA is continuing to agitate the German Government over gaining wing work on the FLA. Conze, however, would like to see the UK "definitively in the FLA programme" - a move which would certainly have to entail British Aerospace carrying out the wing design.

Source: Flight International