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Brown wants to cut order for 'outdated' Eurofighter By George Trefgarne, Economics Editor
Gordon Brown wants the Ministry of Defence to cut dramatically its order for the new Eurofighter in return for money to buy two new aircraft carriers, according to Whitehall sources.
The Eurofighter currently takes up a fifth of the MoD's annual weapons-spend Britain is committed on paper to 232 Eurofighters, called Typhoon by the Royal Air Force. The total programme will cost Britain up to £18 billion.
But the Chancellor is said to believe it would be better to cancel some of the order now than be saddled with an expensive weapon system designed for the Cold War when there are new threats to be faced after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
The MoD spends around £6.5 billion a year on weapons procurement and the Eurofighter is taking up about a fifth of that, jeopardising other projects.
The Army is short of the most basic equipment, pay and conditions are poor and it is nearly 10,000 under strength. The SA80 rifle continues to jam and to replace it would cost around £600 million - the cost of just 13 Eurofighters.
The total of 232 Eurofighters was first set in December 1997. So far, only the first 55-plane tranche has been paid for.
The next tranche will be signed for at the end of next year, although the hoped-for 130 aircraft order may be scaled back. The Treasury does not want the final tranche to be ordered at all.
Instead of the Eurofighter project, Tony Blair and Mr Brown have told Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, that two new aircraft carriers can be ordered shortly.
One Whitehall source said: "There is a feeling across government that we are now living in a different world than we were five or even 10 years ago and the armed services need to reflect that."
On Monday, the Chancellor will unveil his Comprehensive Spending Review, which will give his spending plans for the next three years for all departments other than health.
An MoD spokesman said: "Obviously we don't know the outcome of the spending review but we don't anticipate a change to our plans as a result of that review." However, the department is writing a new chapter to its own Strategic Defence Review which is looking at all weapon systems.
A spokesman for Eurofighter said the project was vital for the European aerospace industry. "The capability and future of the industry is at stake in many of the technological features of the Eurofighter," he said. It is estimated that up to 45,000 British jobs depend on it.
The spokesman denied that the aircraft was out of date. "We have reconfigured the aircraft several times already. It is a true multi-role system . . just the sort of capability needed in the current environment."
Mr Brown intends to make education, policing and dealing with asylum seekers the the centrepiece of the Comprehensive Spending Review. But the MoD will receive hundreds of millions of pounds extra to pay for the war on terrorism and a possible attack on Iraq. http://www.news.telegraph.co.uk/news.../nbrown10.xml:
Flak flies over Eurofighter, a Cold War 'relic'
The Chancellor wants to cut Britain's order for the jet. Neil Tweedie traces an £18 billion controversy
Eurofighter is essentially a child of the Cold War, a super-agile combat aircraft conceived as long ago as 1984 to take on the likes of the Russian Mig 29 and Sukhoi Su 30 over Central Europe.
It is also Britain's most expensive defence project ever. The National Audit Office estimates the project will eventually cost the British taxpayer £18.8 billion. Time has moved on, however, and with it Britain's defence requirements.
Opponents of Eurofighter - renamed Typhoon for RAF service - would argue that the Ministry of Defence's over-stretched budget would be better spent on weapons suited to the kind of expeditionary warfare seen in Afghanistan: carriers and carrier-borne aircraft, amphibious platforms and helicopters.
The plane, they say, is an outdated design, lacking the stealthy characteristics of American rivals.
The aircraft's champions vigorously deny the charges, arguing that British forces will inevitably meet high-performance Russian, or even Western, fighters in future operations, and cannot afford to have second best.
The aircraft was originally intended to have entered service a decade ago, but changes in specification, prevarication by Britain's German partners in the Eurofighter consortium and last-minute technical hitches have taken their toll. The revised target date for RAF service entry was last month, but that has slipped to the end of the year.
That Eurofighter is a formidable weapons system is not in doubt. Its manufacturers claim that only the American F22 Raptor, due to enter service by 2005, could best it as an air superiority fighter. But Raptor, they point out, is twice as expensive at around $100 million (£67 million) a copy, and will never be bought by a country that could pose a threat.
Eurofighter is a collaborative project between four European nations: Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain. Britain has ordered 232 in three tranches. Firm contracts for the first 55 were signed in 1998, and the first RAF training unit is expected to take delivery of some of those aircaft at the end of the year. The aircraft is expected to become operational in 2006, eventually replacing the RAF's Tornado F3 air defence fighters and Jaguar strike aircarft.
Contracts for the second and third tranches, each of about 90 aircraft, are due to be signed in 2003 and 2007 respectively.
Tranche 3 aircraft would not be built until 2010. Those aircraft are intended to be the ultimate multi-role version of the aircraft, and if they are not built the RAF would be deprived of a huge part of its future strike force.
In addition to the RAF purchase, Germany will receive 180, Italy 121 and Spain 87. The consortium claims that 154,000 jobs across Europe are directly or indirectly reliant on the project, some 50,000 in Britain. BAE Systems's Warton plant in Lancashire is the centre of British Eurofighter manufacturing, employing 13,000 people.
If Britain cuts its buy, its share of the manufacturing work could fall also.
Britain and Germany have been responsible for most of the Eurofighter, with 37 per cent and 30 per cent of the work respectively. Italy and Spain account for 19 per cent and 14 per cent.
BAE Systems built the nose, the cockpit, canards, inboard flaps and rear tail. Rolls-Royce makes the engines.
Besides being the most expensive British combat aircraft programme, Eurofighter may also be the last. Its successor is likely to be an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Thank God it's finally hitting the Press. Typhoon is a relic and should have been in Service 5 years ago and not in 2 years time as is expected.
Having flown the last Air Defence "Relic" that BAe produced, that was also late into Service without a full Operational Clearance, I really don't fancy our chances in 2010. Picture this; Red Flag 2010, Typhoon has re-invented the "Funky-Chicken" (AKA Tornado vs AMRAAM) to try and break down the SA of the JSF and F22 drivers, failure to do so will enable these stealthier airframes to "First see and launch" against a jet designed in the 1980s.
Roll on 16/38 point I've had enough of playing these games. I suppose there's always JSF to hope for...............Dreeeam, dream, dream....
The Typhoo is supposed to equip 3 wings of 2 squadrons each at LU, LI and CY. Optimistically, these will have arounf 15 ac each, bringing the total to 90.
Add in an OCU of around 20 and an OEU of around 10 and you get to around 120. Add in a very generous 20% attrition buy and you get to 134. Add a couple more for Boscombe etc and round it up to 140.
That all fits inside the tranche 1 and 2 figures.
Arguing that Tranche 3 could replace the GR4 doesn't cut it, as the case for, and budget for, FOAS is separate. The only case for tranche 3 is a commercial one on behalf of BAe.
The same process can be gone throught for JSF. The joint Harrier force is shrinking to share around 60 GR7/9s. Even allowing for a 1 for 1 replacement and a 20% attrition buy, we only need around 75. Yet the proposed buy is 150.
On that basis, either the JSF order could be cut or the GR4s could be replaced by the remaining JSFs with, perhaps, a few additional frames.
So, sorry, I'm not going to bleed over this. I think Gordon Brown has a good case.
A flexible, versatile multi-role fighter/fighter-bomber with the most advanced MMI available, capable of beating any threat (except F-22) and of achieving a better kill ratio against a nominal 'developed Flanker' threat than any of its rivals (c.90% rather than the 60% achievable by its nearest rivals).
An aircraft capable of mounting deployed operations from austere bases.
An aircraft with contractually guaranteed MMH/FH and MTBF figures that will give it lower through-life costs of ownership than any of its rivals.
An aircraft with a lower price tag than F-22, F-15E, or Rafale.
An industrial programme that will safeguard British jobs for decades.
It might have been designed during the Cold War, but it sounds like a good weapon for the post Cold War world to me, especially if you want to avoid aircrew casualties.
Fast jet squadrons have proved their worth and cost-effectiveness in the post Cold War world. An aircraft carrier is a capable but supremely expensive (perhaps unaffordable) means of showing the flag, and one which is slow to deploy and vulnerable to enemy action.
The present size of the EF buy will allow the type to be maintained in service for many years, and might allow the type's use as a GR4 replacement, though this has not been 'budgeted for'. I just read that "the 232 aircraft being procured will support an active RAF fleet of 137 Eurofighters. These may become known as Typhoons in RAF service, as they already are on the export market, though this has yet to be confirmed officially. The 137 active aircraft will equip seven front-line squadrons (15 aircraft each, plus four in the Falklands), an Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) with 24 aircraft, and an Operational Evaluation Unit (4 aircraft). These units will share nine further aircraft which will be categorised as in-use reserves (one per squadron and two with the OCU). The remaining 84 aircraft will be rotated in and out of service, covering attrition and spreading flying hours to enable the aircraft to reach its scheduled out-of-service date."
I'd buy 232 Gripens as well and cancel the Carriers!
I think that Gordon Brown has really hit the nail on the head. The Typhoon was concieved in the Cold War and as we all know we have moved on leaps and bounds from those days. Why should we spend about 3-4 years worth of TOTAL procurement budget on an aircraft that is basically designed to defend the home base from Soviet attack. The Army begs for a new rifle. The new C7 (Canadian M-16) is the new weapon of choice and for around the cost of 20 Eurofighter's we could equip the forces with a weapon that works. We would be better served by obtaining the new carriers and the JSF to go with it. This would conform to the new defence ideology of 'Hit em at home first' A nimble navy with floating airbases is far better than having 232 fighters based on some foreign soil or back in the UK. We would also be better equipped by buying the C17's and a few new ones to go with them. Lets face it, A400m will drag on and go just as over its budget as the Typhoon has. For once, we need to heed the advice from our allies (USA) and buy whats best on the market at the time. We have a history of ill fated procurement bodges and the forces are getting sick of it! Opinions here will be biased as aircrew reign supreme within this forum. Please take time to think of the further implications of buying a relic and not equipping the rest of the forces with the basic kit needed to fight!
Firstly I maybe slightly biased but a carrier (x2) that we are thinking of spending x billions on vs Eurofighter.
Well, I for one would vote whole heartedly for a full complement of Eurofighters. Who thinks seriously that we could take two carriers and park them off someones coastline and sustain any sort of campaign/operation. Those that do are living in a dream world. With the weapon systems available on the open arms market nowadays the anti-ship threat could be huge. Political embarrasment?!! Could we provide a carrier group capable of defending these carriers and carry out worthwhile strikes against johnny foreigner? Come on, we are not the USA after all.
When was the last time we took the fight to someone on our own? With carrier support I would suggest it was the Falklands. Now I have full respect for everyone involved in that campaign dont get me wrong but we cannot do that anymore. If we are to go on ops in the future it will be with the US. Now they have the money, equipment and people to support, protect and employ these "floating airfields" succesfully. We dont!
Let them do the carrier bit and why dont we do what we do best. Stage out of foreign airfields and schwack the bad guys with an aircraft capable of mixing it up with anything out there apart from maybe F-22.
The F-3 is coming to an end, although it has a very good capability at the moment and is employed in its role very well by guys very good at their job. Bring on eurofighter and let us do it even better! If we scrap the Eurofighter or cut the numbers back drastically, what are we going to do with all those commitments we have at the minute? Scrap QRA maybe, not in the present climate I would suggest? Bin the Falklands defence? Maybe back out of Southern watch and let the yanks and GR4 guys soak up all the deployments? Hmmmm.
Also coming back to a numbers thing without surfing back to quote the 137ish that are proposed as a better number than 230ish. Bollox. Have you guys taken into account the scrapping of the Jaguar in the not to distant future. There are 4 sqns at least that need to be replaced in the recce/gnd attack role by something. Or do you propose that the already overworked GR4 and Harrier guys take this on too!? The GR4 has been lifed till about 2015-2020. I cant see Eurofighter filling their ramps to soon before that. As for the GR7/9 guys I think they would prefer JSF probably. I would imagine a lack of time on the boat wouldnt bother them too much either.
Screw spending money on carriers and let us have a CAPABLE FIGHTER that begrudgingly could be used in a muddy role in a few years! Instead of a political mantlepiece ornament to float about the channel. You guys need to stop being so cynical and see Typhoon for the breath of fresh air that it is!
Us young guys in the fighter community cant wait for it! Throw money at it and get it in quicker i say!
Er, Fox 4, those figures included the Jag replacement. The AD wings at CY and LI replace the F-3 force. The OAS/Swing wing at Leuchars will replace the present 3 Jag squadrons (6/41/54).
Warton No.17 Squadron: OCU. 10 two seat and 3 single seat aircraft To move to RAF Coningsby in 2004 and disband in 2005.
Coningsby No.29 Squadron: OCU. 24 aircraft. To form 2004. No. ? Squadron: OEU. 4 aircraft. To form ? No.? Squadron: 15 aircraft. Form 2005. AWX. NATO declaration Jan 2006. No.? Squadron: 15 aircraft. Form 2006. AWX.
Leeming No.? Squadron: 15 aircraft. Form 2006. AWX. No.? Squadron: 15 aircraft. Form 2007. AWX.
Leuchars No.? Squadron: 15 aircraft. Form 2008? OAS. No.? Squadron: 15 aircraft. Form 2009? Swing-role. No.? Squadron: 15 aircraft. Form 2010? Swing-role.
Mount Pleasant 1312? Flt: 4 aircraft. Form? AWX.
Total = 137 aircraft. Tranche 1 + 2 = 141.
Amoingst the problems are:
1. No attrition spares. 2. Insufficient two-stickers. 3. None of the additional capability planned for tranche 3 - meaning the realease of a sizeable number of tranche 1/2 airframes back to BAe for an upgrade programme (To be funded from where if all the money goes into the carrier force?)
I believe that there are grounds for both optimism and pessimism. Sorry you found my piece too sunny Newshound - I'm aware of slippages and problems, of course, but had limited space and wanted to counter some of the more bizarre anti-EF propaganda which normally fills the media.
Pessimism: 1) It won't meet the revised ISD. There will be further delays. (So apply the penalties allowed for in the contract.) 2) It certainly won't have meaningful air-to-ground or recce capability for a while. (So run on the Jaguar, make some more 3As out of the GI aircraft at Cosford, - it may be an antique but its a cost effective and easy solution, so live with it!) 3) The proposed servicing/maintenance arrangements are aimed more at guaranteeing a continuing revenue stream for BAE than at fulfilling the customer's requirements. (So abandon these ridiculous PPPs, PFIs and 'hole in the wall servicing contracts.) 4) BAE still isn't being subjected to commercial disciplines, but is being feather-bedded in a way which isn't appropriate for a privatised company, and isn't in the customer's best interests. 5) Secrecy continues to surround the programme and its schedule. It's easy for this to lead to suspicions that there is 'something to hide'. Problems and delays may be embarrassing to the contractor and the IPT, but shouldn't be secret.
Optimism 1) It will be a great fun aircraft to fly. 2) It will soon be a very good AD aircraft. (Way better than any affordable alternative). 3) It will at least be a damned sight more versatile and useful than JSF. (Two AMRAAM and two JDAM? Please!) 4) Every other fifth generation fighter programme has suffered equal or greater difficulties. 5) Land-based FJ air power has been there when it mattered in the post Cold War world, and whenever carriers have been used there have been land-base alternatives (eg Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, etc.) with the single exception of the Falklands. It's the cost effective way of deploying air power, and when political constraints dictate whether or not ops can go ahead the carrier's supposed advantage of allowing autonomous unpopular ops seems like an expensive and largely irrelevant luxury. 6) The people guaranteeing in service MMH/FH and MTBF figures are CS&S, not the same idiots who are responsible for development and integration delays. Better qualified people than I believe that when it does eventually arrive it will be economical and maintainable to a hitherto unimaginable degree. And if it's not, then penalties can be imposed.
first a word about rifles, the army and raf and navy(dont forget it isnt just the army who have rifles!) can shout and scream all they want we arent going to get a new rifle until at least 2020. as far as im concerned the only problem with it is its not an ambidextrous weapon. as a left handed shot if i ever had to use it on the battlefield i would take the gas parts out and fire it left handed and single shot. now on to typhoon. as far as i know the raf is to get 232 in 7 sqns. that seems a hell of a lot per sqn, even allowing for attrition and the ocu/oeu. the oeu will be 17 sqn and the ocu 29. correct me if im wrong but isnt the typhoon oeu going to be merged with the tornado oeu? and on the subject of typhoon, what is happening to coltishall? everything ive read and heard says that leuchars will have one ad sqn(wonder who'll do q eh!) and two ga. so whats happening at colt? im guessing it'll close but who knows
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Worked with a couple of EFs yesterday and boy, is it some jet!! "Warton, request the block FL410 to FL 510 please"......"(EF1) your tanker is 5 miles ahead, 30 000ft below, can you make the height? Affirm!"......and he did! "(EF 2) can you restrict your exercise to not above FL 410 as there's a similar type operating above you at up to FL 500"
We've had gutless, inadequate jets ever since the Lightning era. Now we've got this cosmic jet about to enter service - and all you can do is to bleat about a couple of grey tin targets full of cocktail party wallahs. Bo££ocks - expensive and obsolete floating gin palaces we simply do NOT need until F35 is a reality. And possibly not even then.............
The RAF & / or HMG will buy all the EuroFighters ordered. What will surprise us is what they will do with them. I am fully aware of the recent air to ground issues facing EF but...... Can you seriously see Tornado making it to 2020? Add into this equation the lask of Navs and an increased SAM threat and you have close to the perfect POLITICAL solution. Secure jobs, cover shortfalls, improve capability.
My only grip is with the NAVs who signed on believing that the GR4 would last until 2020. WAKE UP! 2010 is as good as you will get.....it's a shame that they are not looking for people too enter the Ops Sup branch......Oh Hello! Leave now before it is too late.