The Eurofighter debacle

How much would you pay for a new 'fourth generation' fighter jet subject to an 'official warning that its pilots should not fly in cloud'?

How about if I told you that it is to appear four years behind schedule?

And what if I added that some critics believe it is obsolete before it ever takes to the air?

Probably not as much as it costs to build.

That is the situation faced by Britain's Royal Air Force as it plans to accept delivery of the Eurofighter, a flying fiasco which has been in the works for the past twenty years. Originally the Eurofighter was to be produced by a coalition of the EU's military powers. But France dropped out of the Eurofighter project while the getting was good. France now produces its own advanced fighter, the Rafale, instead.

But the U.K., Germany, and Spain stuck with the loser. The U.K. alone signed itself up for 232 Eurofighters, at a cost of  20 billion. Two deacdes later, actual delivery of the birds looms.

The first tranche of 55 planes is scheduled to be handed over to the RAF in 2006. But the Royal Air Force today faces an environment of budget cuts, base closures, and public questioning of the very need for a post—Cold War air defense. It will cost a lot of extra money to fly all those new planes, which almost certainly will face an expensive period of debugging.

The RAF, in short, needs to come up with savings, and better yet, cash.

So, the RAF's penny—pinchers are reported to be planning to sell off a substantial number of their brand new Eurofighters before they even take them for a spin around the block. According to the price and quantity figures given in a Scotland on Sunday article, the Eurofighters will each cost the RAF 86.2 million (US$158.3 million). No contemplated aftermarket price is mentioned, though the article's headline mysteriously mentions '43m fighters.'

The taxpayers of the U.K. are apparently about to join the electricity ratepayers of California in repeatedly buying high and selling low, due to stupid contractual commitments made by governments past. Britain will find itself heavily subsidizing the air defenses of such potential customers as Greece, Austria, and Singapore.

The British press does not look as though it is going out of its way to stress the costs of the failed multilateral fighter initiative. Mediocrity and lack of accountability are hallmarks of the European Project, so none of this should come as a surprise. As Britain faces important decisions about the level of its integration into Europe, it should take a close look at the performance of the institutions of the European Project.

How much would you pay for a new 'fourth generation' fighter jet subject to an 'official warning that its pilots should not fly in cloud'?

How about if I told you that it is to appear four years behind schedule?

And what if I added that some critics believe it is obsolete before it ever takes to the air?

Probably not as much as it costs to build.

That is the situation faced by Britain's Royal Air Force as it plans to accept delivery of the Eurofighter, a flying fiasco which has been in the works for the past twenty years. Originally the Eurofighter was to be produced by a coalition of the EU's military powers. But France dropped out of the Eurofighter project while the getting was good. France now produces its own advanced fighter, the Rafale, instead.

But the U.K., Germany, and Spain stuck with the loser. The U.K. alone signed itself up for 232 Eurofighters, at a cost of  20 billion. Two deacdes later, actual delivery of the birds looms.

The first tranche of 55 planes is scheduled to be handed over to the RAF in 2006. But the Royal Air Force today faces an environment of budget cuts, base closures, and public questioning of the very need for a post—Cold War air defense. It will cost a lot of extra money to fly all those new planes, which almost certainly will face an expensive period of debugging.

The RAF, in short, needs to come up with savings, and better yet, cash.

So, the RAF's penny—pinchers are reported to be planning to sell off a substantial number of their brand new Eurofighters before they even take them for a spin around the block. According to the price and quantity figures given in a Scotland on Sunday article, the Eurofighters will each cost the RAF 86.2 million (US$158.3 million). No contemplated aftermarket price is mentioned, though the article's headline mysteriously mentions '43m fighters.'

The taxpayers of the U.K. are apparently about to join the electricity ratepayers of California in repeatedly buying high and selling low, due to stupid contractual commitments made by governments past. Britain will find itself heavily subsidizing the air defenses of such potential customers as Greece, Austria, and Singapore.

The British press does not look as though it is going out of its way to stress the costs of the failed multilateral fighter initiative. Mediocrity and lack of accountability are hallmarks of the European Project, so none of this should come as a surprise. As Britain faces important decisions about the level of its integration into Europe, it should take a close look at the performance of the institutions of the European Project.