Manfred Bischoff, chairman of Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa), this week expressed exasperation at the German government’s failure to approve funding for Eurofighter’s long-delayed production phase. He said that its last chance to do so was in July.
The four-nation £40bn Eurofighter project is expected to create thousands of jobs in British and other European factories.
After July, it will be extremely difficult for Dasa to continue financing Eurofighter work, Bischoff said.
It now costs Dasa DM1m (£352,000) a day to keep its Eurofighter team together.
Bischoff said that the bulk of production spending comes next year, with less funding required over the following five years.
Dasa and its partners, British Aerospace, Alenia of Italy and Casa of Spain, have made a production offer on a fixed-price basis.
Bischoff accepted that Dasa’s early repayment to the German government of a DM1bn loan for Airbus development could unlock German production funding for Eurofighter.
He noted that the validity of Dasa’s own Eurofighter production offer to the German government had expired after the first quarter of this year: `It has already run out, though at the moment, this is a minor matter,’ he said.
Bischoff and John Weston, BAe group managing director, confirmed in Paris that German parliamentary deliberations could still delay final approval of the Eurofighter’s production go-ahead until the autumn. This is the case even if the German government approves production at its 11 July cabinet meeting.
British defence secretary George Robertson told the Commons on Monday that German chancellor Helmut Kohl had given his personal commitment to Eurofighter two weeks ago.
An industry source suggests that the first production order, whenever it comes, may not be for just a small portion of the 629 aircraft the four air forces want, but for a large tranche, perhaps for up to 300.