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Typhoon Tranche 3 Contract

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

I am delighted to announce that the contracts for the third tranche of Typhoon multi-role combat aircraft have now been signed by the general manager of the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA), on behalf of the four partner nations, and by the chief executives of the programme’s co-ordinating industrial consortia, Eurofighter GmbH and Eurojet Turbo GmbH. This is excellent news for defence and for United Kingdom industry and represents the achievement of another major milestone for the Typhoon programme.

This order builds upon the success of the in-service tranche 1 fleet and the ongoing introduction into service of tranche 2 Typhoon aircraft, which are demonstrating outstanding performance in operation with the RAF. The tranche 3 contracts will provide an additional 16 aircraft as part of a UK order for 40 aircraft, 24 of which are replacements for aircraft being diverted to satisfy exports to Saudi Arabia. The contracts form part of what is thought to be the largest defence order ever placed in Europe, reflecting the successful and continuing co-operation between the four partner nations and European industry. The contracts have also enabled partner nations to programme significant through-life support savings. For the UK this is of the order of £900 million.

Typhoon is an outstandingly capable, state-of-the-art aircraft which is providing a significant enhancement to our defence capability. The aircraft has the flexibility to contribute across a wide range of operations delivering air superiority and precision ground attack capabilities. Additionally, the aircraft will be built with sufficient capability to allow the embodiment of upgrades to systems now and in the future. The tranche 3 aircraft will be an essential part of our defence capability to be retained until at least the 2030s as they will be delivered with sufficient incremental development capacity to be able to exploit nascent systems and weapons technology to ensure that we can continue to meet emerging defence challenges.

The order will provide major benefits for industry across the United Kingdom and is expected to sustain upwards of 15,000 direct jobs with defence manufacturers, many in high-technology positions, and a significant number in supporting industries across the economy more widely.

Typhoon is a world-class combat aircraft and this investment will provide our defence force with the capability to respond to the challenges and threats we face now and in the future.