The Eurofighter project, on which 40,000 British jobs depend, is once again at risk because of the demands of a junior party in the German coalition government and a critical report by Germany’s audit office.
British Aerospace and its Italian and Spanish partners in Eurofighter are waiting for a German commitment to production. This has now been put at risk by the FDP, Germany’s liberal party.
FDP budget spokesman Jurgen Koppelin said on Sunday that without 2% cuts in the tax that Germans pay to subsidise the former East Germany, the party would vote against Eurofighter funding when the Bundestag debates the defence budget on 2 October.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl and defence minister Volker Ruhe committed Germany to the project in July, but the FDP’s hard line was reinforced by last week’s report from the Federal Accounts Office – equivalent to the UK’s National Audit Office. It said German Eurofighter spending had been underestimated ‘by several hundred million marks’.
Dasa, the German partner in the Eurofighter project, rejected this.
BAe said that ‘a great many of the inaccuracies about the aircraft have been answered in full’. It said it is ‘ready for commitment to production investment. The aircraft is sufficiently mature to go ahead. We are encouraging our partners to move to the production stage as fast as possible.’
The company is confident that a production investment memorandum of understanding will be in place by the end of the year.
A Warwickshire aerospace company was last week fined £10,000 at an industrial inquest after a worker lost parts of two fingers.
Ceramic component maker Morgan Matroc of Rugby denied breaches of the Health and Safety regulations. The court heard that employee Milton Williams was injured as he cleaned a rotary valve on a spray drier.
An HSE prosecutor said Matroc had failed in areas of risk assesment, training and guarding the machine.