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24 May 02. The first delivery of the Eurofighter Typhoon to Britain’s Royal Air Force will be delayed for six months until December, the British Ministry of Defence said on yesterday.

The ministry said it had made it clear in February the June delivery schedule
was “becoming increasingly difficult to achieve” as delays in bringing the
aircraft design to full maturity had prevented test flights from starting on

“The delays are disappointing but reflect the complexity of the project and the
major advance in technology it represents,” Defence Procurement Minister Lord
Bach said in a statement.

The Typhoon is being built by Eurofighter GmbH, a consortium owned by European
Aeronautic Defence & Space Co NV (Paris:EAD.PA – News; XETRA:EAD.DE – News), BAE
Systems Plc (London:BA.L – News) and Finmeccanica SpA (Milan:SIFI.MI – News).
The partner nations in the project are Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain and
they plan to order a total of 620 Typhoons, with the first production tranche of
148 jets running through to 2005. The second tranche begins in 2005 and the
third in 2010.

“We shall now be working hard with industry to recover lost time and to achieve
the planned operational employment date in the second half of the decade, thus
avoiding any gap in front-line capability or extra costs to the Ministry of
Defence,” Bach said.

The Typhoon has been criticised by some analysts for its Cold War air-to-air
combat design and limited ground attack capability. Multi-role fighter aircraft
have been widely deployed in post-Cold War military conflicts.

Comment: A more worrying aspect to the Typhoon saga is the delay in developing the ground attack variant which will limit its export prospects. Greece has gone remarkably quiet on the subject and now Denmark has endorsed the JSF. Rumours continue to abound of a cut in numbers and suggestions have been made that Tranche 3 which is in effect FOAS has been worded to accept JSF or Typhoon, thus a cut in numbers is a strong possibility.

Meanwhile no news is emanating from MBDL on the £1bn Meteor programme. Meteor will not fit in the JSF weapon bay so its production life may be limited to European Typhoons, if at all? MBDA supreme Alan Garwood is rumoured as a front runner for the next Head of Defence Sales

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