Murphy's Law: Typhoon And The Annoying Rivets

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October 29, 2014: Germany recently announced that it was halting acceptance of new Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters until a problem with non-standard rivet holes in the rear fuselage was taken care of. The problem was described as “annoying” rather than serious and did not warrant the grounding of the 371 Typhoons delivered so far. Deliveries of the 101 Typhoons still on order will be resumed when the manufacturer fixes the problem.

Faced with more large cuts in its defense budgets and lack of urgency the original customers for Typhoon have been cutting their orders since 2000. While the Eurofighter is mainly an air-superiority ("fighter") aircraft, there is very little call for that sort of thing at the moment. Ground attack, on the other hand, is very much in demand.

In 2009 Germany and Britain decided to cut back on the number of Eurofighters they would buy. Originally, Britain planned to buy 232 while Germany was to get 180, Italy 121, and Spain 87. Britain already had 144 Eurofighters on order from the first two batches but now will end up with 184. Eurofighter entered service in 2007 and by 2011 there were 260 Typhoons delivered. Deliveries have continued even as orders were cut.

Development of the Eurofighter began in the 1980s, and the first flight took place in 1994. Each aircraft costs over $120 million, including development costs. Current estimates indicate that less than 500 will eventually be built. 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.

But some users, like Britain and Germany, see no urgent demand for the new Eurofighter. So when it comes time to make budget cuts, spare parts for the Eurofighter, and fuel to get pilots in the air for training, are among the first things to go.

 

 


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