The multinational Eurofighter Typhoon program may be closed sooner than expected. With just enough orders to keep the production line active until 2030, the fighter depends on new agreements to survive until the arrival of the 6th generation of combat aircraft, scheduled for 2040.
The fear that the project is threatened was shared by Michael Schöllhorn, who holds the position of president of Airbus Defense and also CEO of the German aerospace industry association (BDLI).
The executive had predicted the Typhoon’s “early death” at a conference held on October 13, before Saudi Arabia’s interest in its rival, the Dassault Rafale, emerged.
The Royal Saudi Air Force has been operating 72 Eurofighters for a few years and had requested a second batch of 48 aircraft in 2018.
However, at the time the German government vetoed the agreement due to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, attributed to the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Later, the United Kingdom also prevented a deal following military actions in Yemen.
The situation, however, changed amid the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. Saudi Arabia has officially issued a request for proposal for Dassault with the same number of aircraft, which should be delivered by November 10th.
New order by 2025
For some time, the British government has been trying to convince its German partner to relax the embargo and allow the sale of the Typhoons, but so far without success.
According to Schöllhorn, the fighter upgrade project known as “Long Term Evolution (LTE) needs to be completed in 2024 to keep the aircraft technically relevant.
He also warned that the deadline for a new order for fighters to be closed is 2025, otherwise there will be an interruption in the production of the supersonic jet.
The Typhoon has been less successful than the Rafale in gaining orders outside the countries that developed it (the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy). In addition to Saudi Arabia, the fighter is operated by Qatar (which also acquired the Rafale), Oman, Kuwait and Austria.
The European country, however, has already signaled interest in the US F-35 after its Eurofighter purchase sparked a corruption scandal.
Typhoon partners the United Kingdom and Germany became adversaries in the 6th generation fighter programs, with Airbus aligning with Dassault and British Aerospace joining Italy and Japan.