|Stupidly I always thought the deal with Saudi Arabia would be to give them tranche 1&2 EF's saving the best tranche 3's for the RAF. That way it made sense, as we would be getting rid of the jets we didnt need (but commited to back in the 80's) so avoiding cancellation penalties while saving space for the most advanced EFt3's we do.
The fact that Saudi is getting more tranche 3's (48 vs 40) than us is insane! (but shrewd negociation on the Saudi's part)
Despite spending more than £16 billion on the project over the last two decades the British are now going to end up with less than half of Typhoons from the Tranche 3 group.
The Tranche 3 aircraft are specifically designed with built-in ground-attack capabilities that would prove highly effective in conflicts like Afghanistan.
But the RAF are now only going to receive 40 of the advanced aircraft with 48 going to Saudi Arabia. The Air Force was originally to receive 88 Tranche 3 aircraft which have been described as a "generational difference" between the Tranche 1 and Tranche 2 variants.
It has also been disclosed that the aircraft, which cost £90,000 to fly an hour, will be almost a decade late coming into service between 2015 and 2020.
In a deal announced in Munich it was also confirmed that the RAF will fall 72 Typhoons short of the 232 originally envisaged for the aircraft designed to counter the Soviet Cold War threat.
Agreement for the deal has been held up by detailed negotiations involving the manufacturers, BAE Systems in the UK, and the Eurofighter programme's European partner governments. The Government said those talks had secured £900 million of savings.
Currently the RAF are desperately trying to get the Tranche 2 Typhoons into Afghanistan but are experiencing technical difficulties converting them to the ground attack role and do not have enough pilots trained.
The Tranche 1 aircraft, designed to intercept Soviet fighters, are not even able to carry cruise missiles as their undercarriage is too weak.
Four Typhoons are on 24 hour Quick Reaction Alert in Britain to intercept hostile aircraft.
The Liberal Democrats attacked the deal as a "betrayal" of troops fighting in Afghanistan who needed more transport aircraft, especially helicopters.
Willie Rennie, a defence spokesman, said: "Troops will find it hard to believe that the Government is pressing ahead with ever greater numbers of Cold War jets when it is transport aircraft, especially helicopters, that are so badly needed right now.
"Faced with a brutal conflict in Afghanistan, it is the lives of our brave servicemen and women that must come first."
Cancelling the Typhoon order would have brought substantial financial penalties and likely job losses, but the Munich deal will keep about 15,000 jobs at BAE Systems.
The Government has also been criticised for announcing the deal during the Parliamentary recess.