Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

The UK is reviewing the use of derated Eurojet EJ200 engines to power its Eurofighters as part of a drive to cut costs at the cash-strapped Ministry of Defence. The Royal Air Force is already dropping the cannon from the aircraft in an effort to reduce capital and support costs.


Industry sources say the MoD is studying various options for adapting thrust to generate potential savings by reducing spares and maintenance needs. "They are examining this as a means of saving money in the short term," says a source close to the MoD.

Any change to the thrust rating could be achieved through software changes and would be easily deactivated if required, for example during conflict. A decision to derate the 20,000lb-thrust (89kN) EJ200 would probably raise concerns, however, over the quality of Eurofighter training available to RAF pilots.

Eurojet is believed to be studying ways of introducing improvements into the EJ200 that could reduce maintenance costs, although this would require a greater up-front investment in the engines by the MoD. Another course of action could be to take the initial production batch of Eurofighters with the standard engine, and later switch to the proposed 23,000lb EJ230 growth version, derated to 20,000lb, for the second tranche.

Although the MoD declines to comment on the moves, it is believed that the cuts are part of a wider study to reduce the cost of acquiring and supporting the planned 232 fighters. Last week it emerged that the 27mm Mauser cannon was being dropped from all but the first 55 aircraft on order (Flight International, 9-15 May).

Rolls-Royce has carried out studies into a possible turboprop version of the EJ200 that could be offered to power the Airbus Military Company A400M transport. The UK company is, however, understood to have decided to remain faithful to its BR700-based solution, known as the BR700-TP, which it views as offering the best technical and commercial package.

An EJ200-based bid could have brought together Eurojet partners R-R, MTU, FiatAvio and ITP into a single camp, isolating Snecma, which is now teamed with MTU and FiatAvio, offering the M88-based M138 turboprop.

The manufacturers have come under political pressure to find a joint solution that would be of interest to all the major nations expected to buy the A400M.

Source: Flight International