§ Baroness Turner of Camden
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What date Eurofighter is expected to enter service with the Royal Air Force. [HL4492]
§ Lord Bach
My honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Moonie) made clear on 26 February 2002 (Official Report, col. 1139W) to the honourable Member for North Essex (Mr Jenkin) in another place that the June 2002 in-service date for Eurofighter was becoming increasingly challenging to achieve. Although good progress has been made by industry, with the first three instrumented production aircraft achieving successful first flights in early April, delays in bringing the detailed design to full maturity in some areas prevented the flight test programme from starting on time.
Following a thorough review of the programme involving the partner nations, the NATO agency responsible for undertaking the procurement and industry, we have jointly concluded that acceptance of the first aircraft into service should be delayed, to take place by the end of this year, and we shall plan on that basis. We shall now be working hard with industry to recover lost time and achieve the planned operational employment date in the second half of the decade, thus avoiding any gap in front-line capability or extra costs to the Ministry of Defence. The delays are disappointing but reflect the complexity of the project and the major advance in technology it represents. Initial flights of the instrumented production aircraft have been impressive and the Government remain fully committed to this contribution to the United Kingdom's military capability.