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Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 - Production

As of mid-2015 the four assembly lines in the partner nations Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain were scheduled to close silent in 2018 unless new orders were received or other measures taken to retain activity. Eurofighter Typhoon CEO Alberto Gutierrez, responding to questions from Defense News, said plans were in place to continue Eurofighter production for a long period beyond 2018. "It's not the right time to discuss potential closures," he said. "The final assembly lines will stay open to meet new orders, retrofits and midlife upgrades. We are planning responsibly to ensure that Eurofighter can be produced way beyond 2018."

To take in to account the growth potential of the aircraft and the possibility to insert new capabilities in the future, the decision was that the production of the aircraft would be divided into three Tranches: the first one for 148 aircraft, the second and the third for 236 each, with the Tranche 1 planned in production between 2003 and 2007; Tranche 2 in production between 2007 and 2012 and the Tranche 3 in production between 2012 and 2017. The contract for the engines, foreseen at a total of 1.382 EJ200, was also split accordingly to match the three aircraft production tranches. Eurofighter production made use of several innovations in production engineering. These include the use of a modern integrated design, manufacturing and management systems and the introduction of automated processes for the production of a number of aircraft components.

Production contract for the first batch of 148 aircraft [Tranche 1] were placed by the Eurofighter management agency NETMA (NATO Eurofighter 2000 and Tornado Management Agency) on behalf of the partner nations. Fixed prices were agreed prior to the commitment of each contract. The contracts were signed by NETMA, Eurofighter GmbH and Eurojet GmbH. the Memoranda of Understanding for the Production and Support Phases were signed on 22 December 1997 and contracts covering Production Investment and Production placed on 30 January 1998. The contracts for the first tranche of 148 aircraft, of which 55 are for the RAF, valued at some £2.2bn to the UK, were signed on 18 September 1998. The first RAF aircraft was due to be delivered in June 2002. Support of the aircraft throughout its life will be conducted using Integrated Logistics Support principles under a series of separate contracts the first of which, covering initial support and valued at some £600m, were placed at the same time as the Production Investment and Production contracts.

Germany planned to assemble 180 Eurofighters of the 620 that consortium members are to buy. Britain is to take 232, Italy 121 and Spain 87. British Eurofighter aircraft wwere assembled at British Aerospace sites in Lancashire from components manufactured by companies in the four partner nations. Rolls Royce manufactured the engines, mainly in Bristol and Derby. In the other nations the respective partner companies had their own assembly lines in Munich, Turin and Madrid. Some 200 UK companies, including GEC Marconi, Dowty, Lucas, Martin Baker, Normalair Garrett, Pilkington Thorn Optics, Smiths Industries, Computing Devices and Ultra Electronics, were involved in the development of a range of equipments for Eurofighter, including the radar and defensive aids subsystem. In the UK, over 6,000 jobs depended on the Eurofighter development phase and rose to some 14,000 at the peak of production.

The UK initially intended to procure 232 aircraft to replace the Tornado F3 and the Jaguar. Deliveries to the Royal Air Force began in June 2002 and were scheduled to run until the year 2014. Deliveries to the RAF started in 2003 to 17(R) Sqn who were based at BAE Systems Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire (alongside the factory where the aircraft were assembled) while detailed development and testing of the aircraft was carried out. Formal activation of the first Typhoon Squadron at RAF Coningsby occurred on the 1st Jul 2005. The aircraft took over responsibility for UK QRA on 29 Jun 2007 and was formally declared as an advanced Air Defence platform on 1 Jan 2008.

Delivery of first Series Production Aircraft to the German Air Force took place in August 2004. This Aircraft, GT003, was used for Service Pilot Instructor Training based at Manching, Southern Germany. Later in the year, this aircraft was delivered to Laage in Northern Germany where the process of integration to the operational fleet will commence.

The December 2004 signature of the Tranche 2 Supplement 3 Contract, worth Euro 13billion, will allow for the production of the Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoons, which would feature the full air-to-air and air-to-ground swing-role capability that the four Partner Nations require.

In May 2004 the first German Air Force Eurofighter Service Aircraft were welcomed by Fighter Wing (Jagdgeschwader) 73 "Steinhoff" (JG 73 'S') to their operational base at Rostock-Laage in Northern Germany. The event was attended by Chief of the German Air Force LtGen Klaus-Peter Stieglitz and Dr. Peter Eickenboom, Under Secretary of State within the German Ministry of Defence.

Delivery of Single Seaters started in December 2004, with Spanish & Italian Air Forces to receive the first aircrafts. Germany and UK followed shortly. These aircraft are equipped with DASS (Defensive Aids Subsystem), MIDS (Multiple Information Distribution System), Chaff and Flare.

The first development airframes started flying in 1994. Ten years later only 10 two-seater aircraft from the first batch of tranche one were in RAF hands. Once fully operational, it would replaced the F3 Tornado in the air defence role and, when the ground-attack variant of the Typhoon is developed, also the Jaguar and its ground attack and reconnaissance role. It will therefore become the RAF's premier swing-role strike fighter.

With deployment of IS002 from Alenia's facilities in Torino to 4° Stormo "Amadeo d'Aosta" at Grosseto, Italy, by mid-April 2005 all four partner air forces in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom operate series production single seaters with Batch 2 standard. These aircraft have PSP2 Capability (Production System Package) with Initial Defensive Aids Subsystem (DASS), Multifunctional Information and Distribution System (MIDS), Initial Direct Voice Input (DVI) and Sensor Fusion. Six Batch 2 aircraft have been accepted by the customer air forces so far, totalling the number of delivered series production aircraft at 41 (including 5 Instrumented Production Aircraft IPA).

In 2004, the UK decided to withdraw its fleet of ground attack Jaguar aircraft early and to spend £119 million to install ground attack upgrades on early Typhoons to cover the resulting capability gap. The UK MOD said that it had carried out a cost-benefit analysis of this decision in 2004, but there is no evidence of this in the project history. Initial production aircraft of the F2 Tranche 1 standard were capable of air-to-air roles only and were the first Typhoons to hold UK QRA duties. In order to fulfill a potential requirement for Typhoon to deploy to Op HERRICK, urgent single-nation work was conducted on Tranche 1 to develop an air-to-ground capability in 2008. The UK declared this ground attack upgrade to be combat ready in July 2008, on time and budget. Tranche 1 aircraft were declared as multi-role in July 2008, gaining the designation FGR4 (T3 2-seat variant), fielding the Litening Laser Designator Pod and Paveway 2, Enhanced Paveway 2 and 1000lb freefall class of weapons. Only a handful of F2/T1 aircraft remain, these will be upgraded to FGR4/T3 by the end of 2012. Tranche 2 aircraft deliveries commenced under the 4-nation contract in 2008, in the air-to-air role only. These aircraft were deployed to the Falkland Islands to take-over duties from the Tornado F3 in Sep 09. Currently, upgrades to Tranche 2 continue as part of the main contract, with air-to-ground capability expected in 2012.

The year 2009 marked another important step in the program’s history as on 31 July the four nations of the Eurofighter consortium signed the contract for the first part of the Tranche 3 production aircraft (112 units) for a value, engines included, of 9 Billion euro. The partners agreed to a compromise by splitting Tranche 3 into two parts known as Tranches 3A and 3B. Under Tranche 3A, Britain agreed to buy 40 planes, or just less than half of its remaining quota. Germany will get 31 Tranche 3A aircraft, Italy 21 and Spain 20. The deal, which brought to 559 the number of Eurofighters either in service (178) or on order (381), would keep the production lines open through 2015. The details involving Tranche 3B, for which the partners had hoped to sign a contract by the end of 2011, were left unresolved. The UK Ministry of Defence had already ruled out the purchase of its final quota of 48 aircraft, which fueled speculation that Tranche 3B might ultimately be abandoned.

In June 2009, the German Budestag defense committee said Germany could not afford its full quota of 180 Eurofighters, noting that Germany's $21 billion investment would only cover 143 Eurofighters. Teh Bundestag would have to approve an additional $4.2 billion if the Luftwaffer were to get the planned 180 aircraft. The German Defence Ministry announced 10 June 2009 that it would go ahead with the purchase of 180 Eurofighter jets, saying there was still an "operational need" for the planes.

But rising costs raised doubts about whether the Germans would go for the full 180 aircraft. In February 2010 Germany's coalition government confirmed that the Luftwaffe would not receive its final batch of Eurofighters. The Tranche 3B, covering the final 37 jets originally planned for the Luftwaffe, will instead be made available for export. Faced with penalties for non-acceptance of the 37 remaining aircraft, the German government has decided to put these Eurofighters up for sale, under an agreement issued by the new coalition government. The decision appeased Eurofighter officials, since there will be no reduction in the original 180-aircraft German order.

Germany is the Eurofighter program export partner for Austria and possibly India, depending on the outcome of that country’s next-generation fighter contest. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière presented orally his Swiss counterpart Ueli Maure a quote for 22 Eurofighters from the stocks of the German Bundeswehr in November 2011. In a very polite letter of 15 November 2011 de Maizière once again pointed out the offer to Maurer. Switzerland eventually purchsed the Gripen.

The UK made decisions on other types of combat aircraft which have affected how it plans to use Typhoon. In 2009, the UK decided to retire its other air defence fighter, the Tornado F3, early to save money. Consequently, the UK re-prioritised Typhoon for air defence tasks at the expense of the ground attack capability introduced only the previous year. The UK MOD was unable to demonstrate that it had conducted a thorough cost-benefit analysis to justify these decisions on the operational use of its air combat fleet, even though Typhoon's use has significantly altered as a result.

The UK MOD signed a contract for 16 additional aircraft in July 2009 - the third phase - to bring the total ordered to 160. The UK MOD made a judgement, based on the balance of affordability and operational risk, not to order the 232 as originally planned; believing that 160 aircraft balanced its defence needs against severe pressures on the wider defence budget. The UK MOD considered that buying this number of Typhoon aircraft fulfilled its contractual obligations with the other partner nations. By 2019, the UK MOD intends to have retired the 53 oldest aircraft leaving 107 aircraft operational. The Committee was not convinced that the UK MOD had conducted sufficient cost benefit analysis to underpin difficult decisions made on the Typhoon fleet, for example in deciding fleet numbers. The 53 oldest aircraft will still have life remaining in their airframe when the UK retires them. The UK MOD has decided it that it will be better value for money to spend the funding it has on upgrading the 107 newer aircraft to give them greater capability and stop them from becoming obsolete.

A total of 53 Tranche 1 aircraft were delivered, with Tranche 2 contract provisioning for 91 aircraft. A total of 24 of these were diverted to fulfill the RSAF export campaign, leaving 67 Tranche 2 aircraft due for delivery to the RAF. The Tranche 3 contract has been signed and will deliver 40 aircraft. With the Tranche 1 aircraft fleet due to retire over the period 2015-18, this will leave 107 Typhoon aircraft in RAF service until 2030.

A proposal was made in May 2010 by the Eurofighter GmbH consortium to slow down the rate of production of Typhoon Tranche 3A aircraft for all four partner nations. The Typhoon partner nations agreed to this proposal in July 2011. The agreement on production slowdown aims to protect the industrial capacity of the Eurofighter partner companies to service export orders for Typhoon while meeting the requirements of the partner nations.

In June 2011, the ministers of the four core partner nations signed an agreement which signalled their intent to develop an operational requirement for an Electronically Scanned radar for the Eurofighter programme which would aim to introduce a harmonised new radar on to the aircraft, also enhancing the exportability of the aircraft to new overseas customers.

Cassidian handed over the 100th Eurofighter to the German Air Force on 28 February 2013, at the Military Air Systems Centre in Manching. Cuts are set to be made in key defense projects and equipment. The number of Eurofighter jets, Tiger combat helicopters and NH-90 transport helicopters will be drastically cut, in some cases in half.

Since entry into service in 2004, more than 350 Eurofighter Typhoons have been delivered to six nations: Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia. In December 2012, Oman became the seventh customer and ordered a total of twelve aircraft.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2015 20:35:56 ZULU