"We'd be delighted to take part in a competition," says Eurofighter CEO Aloysius Rauen about the Netherlands' request for information covering its new fighter program, "but as far as we know they have already decided to buy the JSF, and this analysis is a revalidation of a decision that they have already taken." As in Denmark and Norway, Eurofighter has decided to keep its powder dry and focus its efforts on Switzerland, India and Japan, where the team believes it has more chance.
Eurofighter's view contrasts sharply with that of the Gripen team, which is preparing for a full-scale contest in the three northern nations.
The European group, meanwhile, is getting ready to increase production to as many as 60 aircraft a year (not far short of total US fighter output this year) in order to be able to guarantee deliveries in the Swiss and Indian contests. It was also announced at Farnborough this morning that the team is embarking on a major overhaul of its product development organization, to make it more nimble, responsive and efficient.
This study started under the title Project Foundation early this year. Brian Phillipson, who was previously Rauen's right-hand man as Eurofighter chief operating officer, is heading the effort. "We signed a contract 18 months ago for P1E [Phase 1 Enhancement]," Phillipson says, "It's a EUR1 billion, seven year effort. But we need a more responsive system, not just for UORs [urgent operational requirements] but at every level."
Phillipson expects that the next billion-euro package, P2E, will be replaced by a new process that can deliver new capabilities within one or two years of a decision to go, and accommodate individual requirements - whether from the original four partners or export customers - while maintaining a stable production configuration. "We can';t wait for P1E to finish before the operators start getting the other things they want." The model is the UK's CP193 project, which added the Litening laser targeting pod to the RAF's Tranche 1 Typhoons and was declared ready for operations on July 1. "If we can do that, why can't we do everything else that way?"
Eurofighter hopes that Phillipson's new organization - matched by a streamlining in management agency NETMA - will speed the integration of capabilities that had looked a long way off, like the Meteor AAM, Storm Shadow cruise missile and an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
pic credit: Eurofighter