§ Mr. Gordon Marsden
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Eurofighter programme. 
§ Mr. George Robertson
I am delighted to announce that today in Bonn, along with my Germany, Italian and Spanish opposite numbers, I signed the Memoranda of Understanding enabling us to proceed to the production and in-service support phases of the Eurofighter programme.
The Government have remained resolutely committed to the Eurofighter programme and today's development represents a significant step forward. We need Eurofighter to replace our Tornado F3 and Jaguar. The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the RAF in June 2002. Eurofighter is an aircraft for the future and will provide the key component of the RAF's fighting capability.
This development will be enthusiastically greeted by industry. Tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs will be sustained in the UK and in Germany, Italy and Spain during the production phase. The four nations have declared a requirement for a total of 620 aircraft, 232 of which will be for the RAF. Eurofighter is the largest defence collaborative equipment programme in Europe and is an important contribution to European defence co-operation.