In one word, what's wrong with the British armed forces these days? That word is Eurofighter.
As to cost, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in recent years estimated the entire planned British buy of 232 jets at £20bn, putting each plane at £86m. (Any lesser figure can be produced only by very creative accounting.) However, it is widely acknowledged that the RAF cannot in fact use more than 120-odd jets plus some attrition spares. Meanwhile, it is also well known that the RAF would like a much more capable strike capability than the "austere" option currently on offer. The cost to the UK taxpayer of enhancing Tranche 3 aircraft in this way has been reported as an additional £5bn.
In the worst possible case, with the UK taking 232 jets, mothballing 90+ permanently, and paying to enhance Tranche 3, the price paid per aircraft used in RAF service could beat £180m. Depending on exchange rates, this would make UK Eurofighters even more expensive than the American F-22 Raptor stealth ultrafighter - and considerably less capable.
However, the UK has already arranged to sell some of its Eurofighters on to the Saudis, and is trying to shift more to other customers. Sadly it's clear that these sales will involve more capable aircraft from the later manufacture tranches, as nobody else wants single-role air to air fighters any more either. It may be hard to get any sales at all: former BAE chief Mike Turner has lately appealed to the MoD to "finish the job" on multi-roling Eurofighter so as to make it saleable.
Bottom line, then: the Eurofighters which fly with the RAF will have cost us somewhere between £100m and £150m each depending how many of the mothball fleet we can sell off. All or most of them will be pure air-superiority fighters, completely lacking in the Stealth technology now beginning to be seen as vital in that field, with "austere" strike capability bolted on. We will have spent more to get this rather irrelevant capability than it will cost to replace the national nuclear deterrent. The Eurofighter quite simply dwarfs all other major equipment projects at present - the new carriers for the navy are a matter of peanuts by comparison.
More than any other single thing, the Eurofighter is the cause of the terrible financial paralysis now gripping our armed forces. More than any other single thing, the Eurofighter is the reason why our fighting men and women overseas don't have the helicopters and transport planes they need, and why they get paid so abysmally badly.
The Eurofighter is also the reason that the Royal Navy may never be allowed to re-acquire proper fleet carrier capability. This despite the fact that the lack of that capability caused almost all the losses and casualties we suffered in the Falklands, and the very salient fact that every time a British fighter has shot down an enemy aircraft since WWII, that fighter took off from a carrier to do so.
But we don't have to have Tranche 3. The Treasury, at least, believe that we could simply pull out of it and save money, regardless of possible penalties under our agreement with the partner nations. Only Prime Minister Brown's personal intervention is keeping UK Tranche 3 alive at present.
That's why your correspondent has signed the petition - though the No.10 website doesn't say so yet for some reason. Any readers who pay British taxes or support the British fighting forces might consider signing up as well. ®
We didn't start the petition. Reg reader Patrick Seurre did.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH DEFENCE SPENDING?
You ask what is wrong with Defence spending and then postulate an answer. The question is valid - your answer is not.
The correct answer is the money we spend on the Royal navy, excluding the Deterent boats. Our current Royal Navy is so weak and useless that it could not convoy a single skip safely from Falmouth to Felixstowe. It can not operate against any effective enemy of the Crown without coalition partners, unless you count a a few pirate speedboats that are armed with little more than assault rifles.
Our proud Navy, that defended these islands, protected the convoys and made victory in WW2 possible is a sick, resource consuming, joke and the real waste of Defence resources is the 2 new aircraft carriers, which are totally without purpose other than the jobs (read political support) they bring in some of the less salubrious areas of the Realm.
Good question. Wrong target.
Hey, so maybe it'd be a good thing to scrap Tranche 3 AND to call back the guys from the American wars in the Middle East then?
Yes, it would be nice to have the Tranche 3s for any (slim) possible conflict with Russia.
But we have a LIMITED BUDGET. This is an EIther/OR situation.
We need a few high-end planes that can handle special missions- first stike against Iran etc
But then we need just standard half-decent plains that do the job against piss-poor old Russian equipment, or those with No planes at all. As must as readers love to slag off the septics, we are not gonna have a war with them any time soon, But off the shelf F35s and apachaes cheaply and soon as a basic, cheap, but very conpetent plane for our ACTUAL needs at the moment.
Then buy more helicopters/armour for the troops dieing on the ground as we speak.
Lewis, ignore the knee-jerk anti americans, and those that want to debate the minute of the EuroFIghter Vs F22. The point of these articles is about the opportunity cost of buying Eurofighter and keep spreading the word what a daylight robbery this is!