July 13, 2010:
The Eurofighter Typhoon only entered regular service in the last three years. Now, Britain is planning to phase out a third of those it has, in the next five years. Germany is also cancelling Typhoon orders. Last year, Britain decided to not take all of its third batch (or "tranche", as they like to call it in Europe) of 88 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. Britain had decided to take 40 of the fighters from the third batch, and resell another 24 to Saudi Arabia. In effect, Britain was pulling out of the Eurofighter program, and cancelling 16 of the aircraft it was to have received from the third batch. The British government believes that 184 Eurofighters will be sufficient, and that it cannot afford any more than that. Originally, Britain planned to buy 232 (Germany was to get 180, Italy 121, and Spain 87.) With export orders, it was expected that nearly 500 would be built, now it will be less than 400. Like the F-22, the Typhoon got too expensive for a need that disappeared.
The Eurofighter project began during the Cold War, to deal with advanced Russian combat aircraft that were never manufactured, because the Cold War ended in 1991 and the Soviet Union, and its armed forces, collapsed. But Cold War era combat aircraft development projects continued anyway. This was mainly for political reasons. Those projects created a lot of jobs, and were worth a lot of votes. But reality caught up with the politicians during the current world recession, created in part by a lot of spending on things people could not afford.
Development of the Eurofighter began in the 1980s, and the first flight took place in 1994. Each aircraft costs about $122 million. The Typhoon is a somewhat stealthy multi-role fighter. It is fast, maneuverable, and carries a lot of weapons. It also can be used for attack missions. This 23 ton aircraft will be the principal fighter in the air forces of Britain, Spain, Germany, and Italy. The Typhoon is closer in capability to the F-15, than the F-22, and is competing with the F-35 for many export sales. The Typhoon was purchased by Saudi Arabia, mainly to provide protection from Iran.