Feeds

Eurofighter Typhoon: It's EVEN WORSE than we thought

RAF gets just 107 jets – and new budget trainwreck looms

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Analysis Yesterday the UK National Audit Office published a detailed report on the current status of the infamous Eurofighter combat jet – nowadays officially known as Typhoon. We here on the Reg defence desk have always had a low opinion of the cripplingly expensive, marginally useful fighter: but even we were amazed by the new facts and figures. The Eurofighter, almost unbelievably, is turning out to be even worse value for money than we had thought.

A Tranche 1 Eurofighter in RAF service

This plane is new and has just been expensively upgraded.

It will be scrapped soon.

Probably the most dismal figure we are given is that the RAF will actually put into service just 107 Typhoons. At the moment it has received 70: the last of the 160 planes ordered by the UK will be delivered in 2015. But, we are told, "by 2019" all the Tranche 1 jets (which were still being delivered to the RAF at the start of 2008) will be "retired" – that is, thrown away. We'll pay for 160 jets (actually we'll pay for 2321), but we'll only ever get a fleet of 107.

This shows the acquisition cost of the Eurofighter/Typhoon in an even worse light than it had previously appeared, when an RAF fleet of 160 had been expected. It is now acknowledged that the development and production cost to the UK of Eurofighter will be £23bn with planned upgrades.

This means that we UK taxpayers will have shelled out no less than £215m for each of our 107 jets – that's $350m at today's rates, rather more than the US taxpayers have been made to pay for each of their 185 Raptor superfighters2, almost all of which will be used operationally. And the Raptor has third-generation Stealth: the Eurofighter has no stealth features at all. The Raptor has thrust vectoring for unbeatable manoeuvrability in a dogfight: the Eurofighter doesn't.

The Raptor is a hugely more sophisticated and powerful aircraft, and is actually – astonishingly – somewhat cheaper, despite the fact that it is being made in much smaller numbers than the Eurofighter!

That's a really astonishingly bad bit of value for money on our part.

Unfortunately the problems won't be over when the final RAF Typhoons are delivered. There are major problems with spare parts and support, unsurprisingly as the Eurofighter's manufacturing is distributed across Germany, Spain and Italy as well as the UK. The NAO auditors write:

There are indications of problems with the collaborative contracts for the supply of spares and repair of equipment. There have been shortages of spares and long timescales for equipment repairs on some of these contracts ...

The [2008] spares procurement contract does not include penalties for late delivery ...

To compensate, the Department [the MoD] has had to take parts from some of its Typhoon aircraft to make other aircraft available to fly.

Oh, those troublesome foreigners and their ramshackle collaborative arrangements! Who could possibly have been responsible for such a rubbish setup?

... the Department played a central role in establishing the collaborative management structures that still exist today.

As the biggest buyer, it was actually the good old MoD which had the biggest input into setting up the multinational collaboration system – and it seems to have done its usual brilliant job.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.