I know in the past I have written copiously on how shaky the cost per airframe for the Eurofighter Typhoon/Taifun has been. $112.9millionUS to Saudi Arabia. Well things are getting a bit more ticklish it seems Italy is balking at buying all of their allotted Tranche 3 airframes since the price has jumped to $137million US. And look at the timeline of delivery, after 2012. Meanwhile we have this article that talks about RAF Eurofighters intercepting some of Putin's Tu-95 Bears and find an even higher price-tag for the Typhoon: $165.6 million. To say I am boggled is an understatement. And to add to the jollies when you surf to the official Eurofighter web-site one picture it will show is of a Luftwaffe Taifun and is titled 'Nothing Comes Close - Low Cost of Ownership' Yikes! Austria and Saudi Arabia remain the only two export orders for Eurofighter with Austria taking delivery of their first aircraft in July 2007, all Tranche 1 standard which means Austria has 15 air defense fighters with no ground attack options. It seems that Eurofighter is still in the hunt for the Indian order of 126 airframes. Please note the F-35 is not being offered to India, Lockheed and Boeing are offering F-16s and F-18s.
Of course this could be the reason why Italy is backing out of more Eurofighter orders. They will be the second FACO in Europe for the F-35 Lightning II. Which means they will produce all 131 airframes for Italy starting in 2014 along with producing F-35s for the Netherlands. About 20 of these Italian F-35s will be the STOVL versions for their new 27,000tonne Cavour class carrier. They have also secured the designation of second source for wings, which could be an order for 1,300 wings. It seems the US and Lockheed are offering them a very sweet technology deal along with a good chunk of production.
Meanwhile the primary FACO in Europe for the F-35, British AeroSpace is still mired in controversy. While the UK's Serious Fraud Office abandoned its investigation of kickbacks that lead to the sale of Tornados to Saudi Arabia, it seems the US Dept. of Justice is now rooting around since BAE is now a major US military contractor. But on the bright side it seems Warton is finally producing the kits to upgrade Tranche 2 airframes to Tranche 3 standards, it will cover a total of 140 airframes.
Of course if Italy remains firm about not buying those last Eurofighters, 48 of them, will we see the cost per airframe jump to $200million each? Or twice the cost of an F-15 and four times the cost of a STOVL F-35?