back to article Germans offer MoD hope of Eurofighter postponement

Germany may offer a cash-strapped UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) a temporary reprieve on the cripplingly expensive Eurofighter superjet programme, according to reports. German defence officials have suggested that the upcoming "Tranche 3" deal for the third and final wave of Eurofighter deliveries could be split into two waves, …


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  1. jason

    Please...just buy off the peg in future......

    Let the others spend the billions developing this crap and we just buy it off the shelf when its ready.

    As a tax payer I'll take the hit of a few thousand jobs going in aerospace in the UK (why not join the party we are all in) if it will save me tens of billions in wastage that could be sent on real benefits for the UK (school books/CAT scanners/proper body armour).

    The other benefit is we'll have roughly the same gear as the folks we fight alongside.

  2. TeeCee Gold badge

    Simple solution.

    Give one away with every copy of the Mail on Sunday.

    It'll make a change from the usual supply of overstocked tat DVDs that no other bugger wants.

  3. Hugh_Pym


    Because if you buy off the peg. You either get empty promises and stuff that just doesn't work or you get something that works with the good bits taken out. For reference see any US arms procurement of the last 100 years.

    Which ever way it is bloody expensive. At least this way we get to do a bit of leading edge tech research in this country. God knows there is little enough of that anywhere else around here

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Ok, I might be talking outta my.....

    .....rear passage, but if Sweden can develope a SAAB fighter for a fraction of the cost of a Typhoon, where's the Eurofighter money been going?

    Another thing, as the UK is a small country why do we insist on a very expensive, complicated peices of hardware, where it takes years to train pilots. Would it not be better to have lots of cheaper jets, and hundreds of pilots (that cost a fraction in money and time to train)? If there was a real war can you hear the Air Marshal...."Erm, can we pospone the war for a year because we need to train an extra 24 pilots?"

    What do I know? I'm just the mug who pays taxes!!

  5. Kevin Crisp

    Body Armour... or Books

    Should our teachers be provided with body armour or school books as the top priority?

  6. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Ok, I might be talking outta my.....

    No, but the whole Eurofighter concept suffers from the usual joint project problem - the Europeans - whereas SAAB had one customer to please and didn't have to waste billions on paying off fat eurocats. Also, the Grypen is a much lighter interceptor and is arguably no better than the original BAe P.106 design the RAF rejected as being too puny to fulfill the role that Typhoon now must. In fact, the closest any off-the-shelf design got to the RAF requirement was the F/A-18, which is no real surprise as the F/A-18 is designed to fulfill the oversea fighter and strike role of the old Phantom, the last real multi-role all-in-one fighter the RAF had. The original RAF requirement can be simplified to a modern, cheaper-to-run and more capable Phantom replacement, something the Tornado has not been able to quite do.

    The thing is BAe has shown before with projects like the Hawk what can be accomplished when just left to get on with doing a job. Compare the Hawk program, which is probably the most succesful advanced jet trainer program around, with competitiors like the Alpha Jet, the project BAe luckily opted out of as it saw what a mess the French and Germans were making of it. The bigger, more costly Hawk has outsold the Alpha more than two-to-one, and is still in production and development whereas Alpha production has long since ceased. BAe is, despite what the loons like to think, not full of stupid people.

    Or the MBT80 program, another euromess involving the usual culprits, France and Germany. The failure of that program after several years and nobody knows how many millions eventually forced the UK to go with Challenger, a design originally (and conveniently?) drawn up by BAe for the Iranians. Luckily this wasn't such a bad thing, though the fire control system was too slow, and it went on to score 300+ kills for no losses in the First Gulf War (not even the Abrams matched that ratio). The much criticised fire control system also got the Challenger a place in the history books with the longest range kill tank-versus-tank kill on record (5.1km using HESH). Not bad for a "clearance bargain" desing. Finally, the Army got what it really wanted in the all-British Challenger 2, which was selected over the other decendents from the failed MBT80 program, the Leopard 2 and the truly awful Le Clerc.

    So it seems that BAe are quite good at judging the armoured European failures. They foresaw the problems in MBT80, and they guessed the multi-national SP70 project was going to fail and came up with the much better AS-90 self-propelled howitzer in their spare time. They also got Hawk not just right but very right, to the tune of an awful lot of foreign orders. However, it must have been glaringly obvious to the same BAe people that the Eurofighter requirement was going to have to fit too many different national requirements.

    As soon as you introduce any of our European partners to a project, let alone the catastrophe of letting Dassault in, the costs go up in quadratic amounts as the design is bastardised to suit everyones' needs, and everyone feels they have to make changes or insist on different capability if only for reasons of national pride. BAe know this, which begs the question did they happily sign off on Tranche 1 knowing full well the RAF would have to come back for either massive post-sale upgrades or additional upgraded jets? Just how much money did BAe really drag out of the MoD and the Europeans to join in the Eurofighter party, and how much have they been promised for fixing the resulting mess for the RAF?

  7. Chris Thomas

    The real problem as I see it is...

    that it was allowed to be developed like this, who the f**k buys a air superiority fighter and forgets that maybe, it might just be a good idea to drop bombs on things, is airplanes dropping bombs on things a new idea? maybe the 2nd world war was the first time anyone had done it, but I am sure the eurofighter project started after that.

    so why is it, that some guy who drinks beer down the pub and has to build websites all day, SEEMS smarter than the military planners who are SUPPOSED to know what they are doing.

    this is just another example of people thinking they are cleverer than they actually are, a good idea in the future might be thus

    1) think amazingly super cool idea

    2) ASK someone else

    3) ASK people OUTSIDE your group before spending billions

    4) collate all information

    5) ??

    6) profit

    (5) was obligatory

    isnt this like every UK MOD decision, half thought through, politics messes everything up, everyoe things it's a giant pork barrel and bingo, half arsed superfighteR!!! whoopy doo!!

    there is the little thing about DEFENDING THE COUNTRY to consider, maybe if people were more interested in doing a good job and LESS INTERESTED in filling their pockets, we'd be back on top of the world, I think we've been on this track so long we dont know how to do anything right.

    read an extended version of this argument here:

  8. Chris Thomas

    aha, so basically they thought...

    to hell with it, might as well F**K up REAL good and show the world what the europeans are REALLY capable of.

    BAe must be creaming it in order to keep with this project and the MOD must have been forced into it by a "euro" friendly govt in order to go along, why else would it keep going? I always wondered what happened to our ability to create out own tech, why, the euro projects justsound like an method to get us all cooperating together when it's plainly obvious to anyone that it's not possible, sounds like a "cmon guys!! be nice to each other" scheme.

    the europeans are incapable of defending themselves, I reckon we should keep to our own tech, build our own stealth, our own missles, our own nuclear warheads, etc.

    another couple of questions though

    1) Why can't we weld those submarine hulls in the uk (as opposed to sending them to the US) whats wrong with just training people for the job

    2) whats with the idea of getting the ballistic missle bodies from the us, whilst providing ourselves with the warheads? Again, why not build them?

    anyone know the answers to those questions?

  9. jason
    Thumb Down


    So let me see you think its better to waste say 40 billion on developing and building something that doesnt work or isnt needed 'in house' than wasting say 10 billion on buying something off the peg that doesnt work or isnt needed.

    Ok a civil servant by any chance?

  10. Chris Thomas

    yes, minister

    title says it all

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Neil Stansbury


    Surely the answer is to ensure that any multi-role design is such that any existing components and as much of the airframe as possible can be re-used from the tranche 1 deliveries.

    There must be thousands and thousands of individual components that could remain the same and therefore be reused in any Tranche 3 multi-role orders.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    With all the suggestions of buying off the peg - it ignores on big thing - our economy and future.

    You said "As a tax payer I'll take the hit of a few thousand jobs going in aerospace in the UK (why not join the party we are all in) if it will save me tens of billions in wastage that could be sent on real benefits for the UK (school books/CAT scanners/proper body armour)."

    Might as well not use the money to buy any maths or engineering books though, as they'd not have any jobs to do once they left school if everyone bought off the peg from the US etc (because it's cheaper than making something ourselves).You need to consider what the loss of those skills mean in the long term - would we become reliant on the US? Often the US don't like providing support information for these things, requiring you to return to them for relatively routine maintenance. Once you start becoming a consumer nation (rather than a producer) you start becoming dependent on others - and as we've seen over the past decades - allies don't always remain allies, and can you guarantee that we'll always have our current status with the US, or could we find ourselves sidelined - with all our defence weaponry sat idle because it's due a service but the US won't do it.

  14. jason

    @AN Coward

    So what some of us are saying is its just better to keep jobs that are not really helping (by producing expensive stuff we cant use or doesnt work) by throwing billions down the drain?

    Well thanks its good to know that keeping a member of staff at BAE in a job costs millions of quid a year. Great I will sleep better at night.

    Maybe we should be looking hard at if we really need all these military aircraft in the first place. Maybe BAE etc. could make and design stuff thats actually useful rather than lame duck aircraft. If they cant, then get rid of them.

    Does the UK need top of the range fighters/tanks etc. to defend itself? No. Even if we did we havent the sheer numbers, budgets or the support infrastructure to make them effective anyway.

    Plenty of other worthwhile stuff to be inventing and developing rather than landmines and death machines. Who knows, some of it might make a profit!!!!

  15. EvilGav

    Should always remember . . .

    . . . that of the three or four nations involved in the Euro-Fighter, only one was actually capable of doing the whole project on their own.

    And that was the British.

    The final project, over many nations, was simply to limit the complete R&D costs from the UK and guarantee European orders, nothing more, nothing less.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    I wasn't saying that BAe jobs are worth saving at any price. What I was saying was that if we, as a country, followed the "lets not take any risk, lets buy off the peg and become a consumer" path, then that's the beginning of the end of engineering (whether military or not) in the UK. Why do anything in-house when someone in the far east or US may be able to take the risk and do it for you.

    The point about saving money for schools was also that in a generation's time, when there is no engineering need in the UK, then why teach Physics or Maths in the UK?

    Extreme - probably. But just looking at the short term cost savings, vs keeping British engineering skills alive has to be considered. Unless of course you disagree....

  17. Chris Thomas


    Yeah really,

    the germans have a smaller military capability than ourselves, the french? you quote napoleon as a victor, I think it's pretty much the only leader worth quoting in what, 300 years? (charles de gualle was a losing coward who's "victory" march through paris was "permitted" by the british and us in order to bolster morale, nothing more) spain? what are they going to do? try harder! greece and italy? switzerland maybe?

    name ONE european country, who if they went to war with the british using conventional weapons only, would survive or win, or even come close to victory. None of them have almost any military to speak of.

    british maybe a fraction of what they once were, but the europeans have almost zero capability at all, even worse weaponry and what good they have is US or UK made.

    so where did I go wrong? maybe you know something I don't

    I really do believe that the eurofighter project was only a success because the uk pushed it through, you europeans got all the tech we supplied and planes we mostly designed for a fraction of what it would cost you to build your own.

    The only loser here is the british, we should have built the plane without you, then at least it might have been a success. The only reason to go with a pan-european solution was effectively to be similar to those "get to know you" weekends that some companies have to bolster cooperation and morale, you know the same losers who need to be TAUGHT to work together, because good people dont need teaching.


  18. Anonymous Coward

    Re: @A Coward.

    Hi Jason, another AC here, I like anoniminity! :-)

    You might to look at the figures a bit deeper as your logic didn't quite add up. The sentiment of "lets not bother subsidising BAE any more by buying arms" doesn't quite add up when thinking a bit more.

    BAE is huge, 4th biggest arms producer world wide and selling quite a lot to our "Amerkin" cousins and various arab states, all of which tops up the Goverment Tax coffers.

    Personally it seems emminently sensible to be nurturing a 13bn company which only sells 1bn to the UK Govt.

    I also wish less war occured, we all do, but refusing to produce Weapons and Systems because of sentiment seems ludicrous. We are safe (so don't really need all these planes) because of old agreements like NATO and inter-European agreements but you know, some of these countries really need to own a plane or tank or two or it's all empty words!

    Do you really think it's worth a clean conscience to throw away 13bn's worth of buisness (so probably 3 - 5bn in tax) to know that the 13bn is now distributed in sales from the US, Russia, China, Germany and lets not forget our nearest and dearest over the water, Le Grenouille!

  19. jason

    In that case keep spending the money...

    .......on what has been proven time and time again...on stuff that doesnt work or gets mothballed!!

    If thats sensible use of tax payers money so we can still do dodgy arms deals to countries of dubious reputation then fine go ahead.

    The MoD/BAE/Vickers god knows who else in the UK arms trade made well have some talented tech folks but they havent a clue in many areas...say project management, budgets, delivering systems fit for use etc. etc.

    I just feel that as we've seen with the financial world etc. that those at the top of a lot of these big organisations dont actually have a damn clue about what they are doing. Paper tigers the lot!

    We really need to take a long hard look at defence precurement going forward. The current system is far too wasteful and expensive with little thats useful at the end of it.

    As a UK tax payer I just want better value for money.

  20. Chris Thomas


    you're right on the project management side of things, technically they are like coders, we love to do the fun stuff, but we hate to do the management side of things ,cause it's boring.

    but the problem then is that people who do project management, arent really very good at anything, thats why they manage and not create, those who can't, manage, amirite?

    Unfortunately it seems that nobody has the same keen interest in management as they do the cool stuff, so they leave that for the boring guys (the ones without a clue), so their cool shit, actually gets turned upside down and they'd probably like to take a minute right there, to tell you how they'd all prefer to move with their aunt in bel air than deal with boring managemetn

  21. FRED

    The KISS principle

    It's simple really folks.

    For our two new carriers!! -'navalise' the number of Typhoons the RAF doen't need.

    Get rid of that 'dog' (F35) Read

    Make up any additional carrier aircraft requirements with a mix of Super Hornets and Growlers


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