22 Sep 03. Reports in the Sunday Times of further problems with regard to the operational capability of the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, although refuted by PR supremo Ian Bustin, may not be wide of the mark, a source close to BATTLESPACE has suggested. The Sunday Times reported on a German audit of the aircraft pointing to such features as cockpit canopy strike problems, icing problems and operating temperature restrictions. This comes on top of the already reported Link 16 and composite tail problems which are believed to have been fixed. The RAF is also reported to be unhappy with the initial batch of aircraft and is reported to have returned some for modification.
Our source also suggests that the consortium wishes to streamline Typhoon procurement under the umbrella of one contractor. Given that the UK is the biggest purchaser of Typhoon this indicates that BAE Systems would be the new lead company Prime for Typhoon, at the expense of EADS which is building the latter tranche of aircraft. Another source suggested that, as part of the radical defence cuts being initiated, that the Typhoon buy could be slashed from 256 aircraft to 75 totalling 5 squadrons. This would keep the Jaguar and Tornado GR4 fleets in service well into the future, thus justifying the huge upgrade programmes on both. The JSF would also cut into the Typhoon buy, however rumours suggest that this buy may now be only 120 aircraft.