News BlogAviation

The Eurofighter Typhoon: so much more beautiful, but so much more expensive!

This is a report that deserves to be displayed and distributed widely within the “Dassault” house. The European competitor, the Eurofighter (aka “Typhoon” across the Channel), suffered a swooping attack from the National Audit Office (the British Court of Auditors). A report submitted to parliament on Wednesday, which points out several flaws in the project: the slippage in costs, as well as the delay in reaching full capacity in multi-role aircraft are particularly highlighted.

Costs are skidding

This is the main criticism. The cost of the Typhoon project has increased significantly. Despite the ministry's decision to reduce the order for 72 aircraft (the initial order was reduced from 232 to 160), the costs of developing and producing the aircraft increased by 20%, bringing the bill to £20,2 billion £. Or a “75% increase in the unit cost of each aircraft”, points out the NAO. As for the cost of supporting each device, it has also increased by a third. When the plane leaves service, according to the Department's assessment, it will ultimately have cost the Crown budget £37 billion.

Multi-role transformation costs time and money

The aircraft had been designed primarily to serve an air-to-air combat role, but, with the “change in operating environment“, it was decided to upgrade to have a fully multi-role aircraft that can carry out both air-to-air and ground attack missions. This “upgrade” cost the British Ministry of Defense “a total of £564 million”. And an operational delay. “ While the Typhoon can currently perform important operational tasks, its full multi-role capability will not be available for a number of years. (…) It is unlikely to be the aircraft of choice for most ground attack missions before 2018 underlines the report. NB: there are currently 70 Typhoon aircraft in service in the UK.

Poor forecast by the ministry and poor coordination between partners

The cause of this slippage according to the NAO is multiple. First of all, a starting point that is a little too “optimistic” (a classic of defense markets). Then the project suffered from different decisions to try to balance the Defense budget (another classic). Finally, the ministry was unable to predict what cost level the project would reach. “ None of this suggests good cost control, having in mind the good use of public money” asserts Amyas Morse, director of the National Audit Office (*). In addition, there are various problems with spare parts and support, which means that the Royal Air Force cannot fly the Typhoon as much as it had planned. The report also notes that the objectives of the project's four partner countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom) were not fully aligned and that the decision-making process was too slow.

(*) None of this suggests good cost control, a key determinant of value for money

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

Comments closed.