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Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 - Requirements

The design and development of military aircraft is a long process. EFA is no exception. Discussions about a possible European combat aircraft began in the late 1970s. The changing nomenclature gives a feel for the complexity of bringing the deal to fruition. There was the ECA (European Combat Aircraft), ECF (European Combat Fighter), ACA (Agile Combat Aircraft), EAP (European Aircraft Programme), FEFA (Future European Fighter Aircraft), EFA (European Fighter Aircraft), Eurofighter, EF2000 and finally Typhoon. It was perhaps overconfident, although it did not seem so at the time, to rename the aircraft Eurofighter 2000 in late 1992. The first development aircraft flew in 1994, the tranche one contract was signed in late 1998 and the first instrument production aircraft flights took place in April 2002. The formal delivery of aircraft to the four nations took place in June 2004.

First there was a three-nation collaborative programme with France and Germany at the start, but in the end requirements differed too much. The French requirement to be able to operate from an aircraft carrier perhaps looks more foresighted now than it did then. The 1980s saw the entry of Italy and Spain into the partnership which lost France.

Following on from the success of Tornado, EFA was the logical next step in terms of European collaboration. The United Kingdom needed a new agile combat aircraft to replace its Phantom and Jaguar aircraft from the mid-1990s. Other European countries had similar needs in the same timescale. France decided that its requirement for a smaller, lighter aircraft made it impossible for it to join in the preparation for the project definition phase. But President Mitterrand's suggested that reciprocal collaboration between EFA and the French national project — Rafale — be sought.

The outline staff target for a future EFA was agreed between the air staffs of France, West Germany, Italy and Spain in 1983. The French sought design leadership —to avoid the inefficiencies of program management by committees — and selection of a French engine. In addition, the French preferred a considerably lighter aircraft than envisioned by the other partners, in order to keep costs down, satisfy French navy requirements for a carrier-based fighter, and facilitate export sales. France pulled out in July 1985.

A major milestone occurred in 1985 when the national armament directors of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain signed the Turin agreement to proceed collaboratively with the new European Fighter Aircraft. In August 1985 came the real turning point in the EFA program, with the signing in Turin of the agreement to proceed between the member countries — the United Kingdom, West Germany, Italy and Spain. France pulled out, although it had been in the program up to that stage. It was developing its own ideas. It wanted an aircraft that was lighter and more adaptable, and would not have the same capability. Its ACX program, as it was called at that stage, became the Rafale. The Dassault company proceeded with its manufacture.

The industries of the four countries started on the project definition stage in September 1985, shortly after the national armament directors reached agreement on the technical and organisational basis of the project definition study. One of the major technical characteristics relates to aircraft weight, about which there has recently been considerable press comment.

By 1986 there were some problems with the EFA which must be resolved. The European staff target formed in August 1985 was for an airplane with a weight of 9.75 tonnes, a wing area of 50 sq m and an engine thrust of 90 KNs. The European staff requirement was for a weight of 12.5 tonnes, a wing area of 55 sq m and an engine thrust of 111 KNs. That is basic mass empty. That problem was almost out of control. The Germans said that the radar was too big. The spoiling tactics of the French relate entirely to their light combat aircraft - the Rafale - and underlay the threat to genuine commonality which was so important to Europe.

In the Summer of 1987 summer, Eurofighter, the national EFA partners' joint company, which would develop and build the aircraft, and Eurojet, the company which would develop and build the new engine required, submitted a definition phase report on the European fighter aircraft. This report covered the technical definition of the aircraft, the division of work between the member companies and the proposed program and estimate of costs.

The 1987 European Staff Requirement for Development (ESR-D) of a European Fighter Aircraft was a further military agreement on coordinating military requirements. It was not an independent phase document and had no legally binding effect. The ESR-D formed the military foundation for specifying the weapons system and propulsion unit, which were the object of the development contracts. The ESR-D described the operational requirements for a fighter aircraft which was optimized for air defense employment, an aircraft which the air forces regard as necessary in order to be able to meet the threat starting in the late 1990's. The signing of the ESR-D confirmed anew the common military need of the air forces of Italy, Spain, Great Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany. It did not restrict the room for decisions by the four governments, but formed the foundation of calculation for assessing and selecting a solution.

With the signing of the ESR-D, the British side consciously and renewedly confirmed a need for 250 EFAs. Since the start of planning on Fighter Aircraft 90 and the narrowing down of planning risks as far as into the definition phase, the Luftwaffe had investigated various alternatives; e.g. national integration solution, ready-made purchases of existing series models and adaptation developments of such series models (among others, the F-18) to the national tactical requirements.

In April 1988, the British Government announced their decision to embark on the full development of EFA, subject to similar decisions by the three other collaborating countries. By the end of November 1988, all four countries had signed a memorandum of understanding. The two main EFA development contracts were awarded to two consortia. Both consortia were comprised of one company from each collaborating nation. Euro-fighter was commissioned to develop the airframe and weapons systems. Eurojet was awarded the contract for the development of the engine. As set out in the memorandum of understanding, the work carried out and subcontracted by each consortium is divided so that Germany and Britain both take 33 per cent. of the work share, Italy 21 per cent. and Spain 13 per cent., each nation then paying for the work done within its borders.

The chiefs of staff of all four EFA nations reaffirmed the need for EFA in March 1992. The House of Commons Select Committee on Defence concluded that the high levels of reliability, coupled with the ease of maintenance 664 and testing of EFA, should result in EFA being significantly cheaper to operate. The report of the Select Committee on Defence, published on 11 March 1992 said on page xxx: "The current indications are, however, that the possible alternative aircraft to EFA would have significantly inferior performance, and yet would offer limited or no savings in cost. The higher levels of reliability, coupled with ease of maintenance and testing of EFA, should result in EFA being significantly cheaper to operate and having higher levels of availability than any alternative aircraft. There is currently no sign of any suitable alternative to EFA which could begin to offer the same level of performance at an acceptable cost, with anything approaching comparable technological benefits."

The quotations for the production phase which the manufacturers presented in April 1992 were higher than expected and judged by all the partner Governments to be unaffordable. A study was commissioned by the four Defence Ministers in August 1992 to consider the feasibility of a plane 30 percent cheaper than EFA. Those studies have looked at a wide range of options. They started by looking at ways to reduce the cost of the present aircraft through more efficient sharing of the production work between the partner companies, by savings in the logistic support arrangements and by generally sharpening their prices and those of the equipment suppliers.

They then looked at the savings that might be achieved by removing some of the more sophisticated equipments from the aircraft, either replacing them with cheaper alternatives, or perhaps leaving them out initially while keeping open the possibility of fitting them later when funds permit. Lastly, the studies examined seven alternative aircraft designs to establish whether a change of design would actually achieve the cost savings which the German Minister had suggested.

On 21 September 1992, Volker Ruehe confirmed his position on the EFA [European Fighter Aircraft] quite clearly before the Bundestag Defense Committee. Firstly, he said, "we needa different aircraft for a different age;" adding, "we want a European solution using as many of the previous technological developments as possible." This solution had been on the table for only a few days - since 16 October to be exact. The proposal for an aircraft other than the EFA-90, which Ruehe has been describing as "dead" for some months now, came from the industrial consortium of the four countries participating in the development of the aircraft. The proposal from industry is based on the airframe that was designed for the EFA-90, and the EJ-200 engine developed for it at the same time. The industry calculates that it will be possible to produce this basic model of a New European Fighter Aircraft (NEFA) for about 30 percent less than the original design for the EFA.

But the German Government's proposed EFA Lite was seen by the UK as inferior in capability to those of a future enemy. As it would involve the redesign of the airframe, engine and installed equipment, it seemed to the British that the plane would be militarily inadequate. Furthermore, it was by no means certain that to abandon EFA and embark on this new project would work out cheaper then the completion of EFA. All alternatives to EFA have been found to be more expensive, less capable, or both.

The broad conclusions of the October 1992 report were that substantial savings of between 12 and 21 percent were possible without any changes to the aircraft specification or its military capability. Greater savings are possible by deleting certain equipments, although that will lead to some degradation of performance. In all circumstances, retaining the present airframe and engine combination offers better value for money than changing course in mid-stream to a new design.

The effect of a new design would mean writing off most of the £5 billion which the four Governments have collectively invested in the development of EFA, and necessitate repeating much of the work already done. In consequence, any new design with an acceptable level of performance would have higher cost than the present EFA programme. Of the seven designs studied, only two could conceivably be marginally cheaper than continuing with the existing airframe and engine. Both would be single-engined aircraft inferior in performance to the present MiG-29 and SU-27.

Great Britain had always argued against Germany's advice, that the program be continued. At the end of September, Germany had begun to withdraw from the program after first announcing that it would not participate in its production. On 15 October, Spain announced that it had decided to spread its investments in the program for financial, strategic, and political reasons. Lastly, Italy indicated on 19 October 1992 that it wanted to pursue the project as a foursome, under condition that the costs would be lowered.

The conference decided to rename the joint aircraft the Eurofighter EF-2000, to emphasize the restructuring and newly delayed production schedule. Under the new program, the launch of production was moved back to 1997, with first deliveries to Italy and the UK slated for 2000. Deliveries to Spain were to start in 2001 and Germany in 2002. Three of the the partners cut their planned procurement numbers: Germany down to 140 from 250, Italy at 130 instead of 165, and Spain with 87 compared to 100. Britain remained committed to its original planned buy of 250. The total buy went from 765 to 607.

In January 1994 the Chiefs of Air Staff of the four nations ( Germany , Italy , Spain , United Kingdom ) agree on the revised European Common Staff Requirement-Development for the development of a new European fighter aircraft. The agreement, the basis for the project's development program, defined the requirement for an extremely agile fighter that will dominate the skies to the mid-21st Century - a single seat, twin-engine fighter with optimal performance in Beyond Visual Range (BVR) and close combat, with significant ground attack capabilities.

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Page last modified: 18-05-2013 18:56:10 ZULU