Warplanes: September 11, 2002


Hard pressed by the American juggernaut (the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, likely to be the largest single combat aircraft production run of its generation), the Eurofighter partners are trying to restructure their combined aspirations and companies. They want to avoid the problems of the Tornado, which was also a multi-national aircraft. The problems included complaints that the British got more than their fair share of the profits from export sales, and that every nation built its own slightly-different version of Tornado. That meant that any new improvement for the aircraft could only be applied to some of them, and shorter production runs meant higher costs. The solution is for all of the member nations to agree ahead of time on what exactly (emphasis on exactly) will be in the second and third upgrade version of the fighter, so that all Typhoons of a given version (whether British or Spanish or export) will be the same. Typhoon is already more expensive (and arguably less capable) than the F-35 JSF and every time the cost ratchets up or the capability ratchets down, vital export sales are lost.--Stephen V Cole


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