Eurofighter program existence in Germany is ‘coming to an end’

The termination of the defense and aerospace industry’s Typhoon program is imminent, due to Germany’s decision against sanctioning the sale of the UK’s Eurofighter Typhoon fighters to Saudi Arabia.

Many highly trained Eurofighter pilots train J-20 pilots in Asia
Photo by David Donald

A recent reminder about the impending danger encircling the Eurofighter program came from Airbus Defense and Space CEO and current president of the German Aerospace Association [BDLI], Michael Schölhorn.

This alarm bell seemingly rang out of desperation to protect the European warplane, especially since it followed closely on the heels of a thwarted UK effort aimed at persuading German authorities to greenlight a new sale to Saudi Arabia.

At a press brief organized by BDLI in Berlin on October 13, Schölhorn iterated the necessity of initiating a fresh production series for the Eurofighter Typhoon [known as Tranche 5] by 2025 to circumvent any interruptions in production.

As per existing plans, Germany’s production of Eurofighter is set to culminate in 2030 with the final Tranche 4 aircraft’s [Quadriga contract, 38 fighters] delivery to the Luftwaffe. This timeline introduces a ten-year hiatus in orders for the German military aviation industry, considering the prospective earliest declaration of entry-level operational capabilities of the forthcoming SCAF/FCAS fighters, developed in cooperation with France and Spain, is slated for 2040.

Airbus is apprehensive of the potentially catastrophic aftermath of this forecasted fadeout of military fighter manufacturing in Germany, including massive employment cuts and a sweeping decline in the aviation sector. Consequently, Airbus underscores the pressing and crucial necessity for a decision on the Eurofighter from the German Ministry of Defense, particularly the placing of a new order [Tranche 5].

Saudi Arabia is a large but unwilling customer

Dirk Hoke, the CEO of Airbus Defense and Space, anticipates that Germany will order approximately 40 Eurofighters for the Tranche 5 phase, while Spain is projected to procure an additional 25 aircraft under the Halcon 2 project. He stressed the necessity for exports to guarantee a minimum economically viable production level of ten aircraft annually. 

Interestingly, approximately 100 Eurofighters are slated for manufacturing at a per-unit price of €100 to €120 million, covering a production timeline from 2030 through 2040. 

The embargo imposed by the German government on Typhoon aircraft exports to Saudi Arabia will remain intact. This is illustrated further by the unsuccessful personal intervention attempted by the British Prime Minister, which underscores Berlin’s commitment to uphold this decision. This stance is largely influenced by the Green Party, presently the largest political faction in Germany.

If not Saudis, who else could it be?

In Schölhorn’s assessment, the potential exists for expanding the exportation of the Eurofighter Typhoon to locations such as Turkey, various other NATO nations, Austria, and Qatar.

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