BAE Systems has won a key role in a £1.3bn contract to build 38 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft for the German Air Force that will help keep UK production lines going beyond 2025.
The contract will maintain critical resources for BAE’s plant in the north of England, where parts of the aircraft will be manufactured, until work starts on its next generation fighter Tempest.
The German parliament voted last week to acquire the extra Eurofighter aircraft, produced by a consortium of BAE, Franco-German Airbus and Leonardo of Italy.
BAE will produce the front fuselages and tails at its Warton plant in Lancashire, where work will start in 2021.
Charles Woodburn, BAE chief executive, said Germany’s decision to choose the Typhoon over the newer generation fighter F-35 made by Lockheed Martin — and for which BAE is a big supplier — “reinforces the aircraft’s position as one of the world’s most successful combat military aircraft”.
Typhoon was also a big contributor to the UK economy, he said. More than 5,000 BAE employees work on the Typhoon programme in the UK, with a further 10,000 jobs indirectly supported by the contract across the UK economy.
“These critical jobs are a key element of securing the UK’s sovereign skills and capabilities, which are central to realising the government’s future combat air ambitions,” he added.
BAE will deliver more than a third of the components for each of the new Typhoons ordered by the German Air Force. Final assembly will be undertaken by Airbus in Manching, Germany.
The new aircraft will join the existing German Air Force Typhoon fleet from the mid-2020s and will be equipped with the advanced electronically scanning radar. The radar substantially upgrades the aircraft’s capabilities in hostile environments.
Typhoon is one of the UK’s most important exports.
The combat air sector generates £6bn of annual revenue in the UK and is responsible for 87 per cent of defence exports.
BAE said Typhoon exports had returned more than double the UK government’s £12bn investment in the programme.
Keeping Typhoon going is also crucial to development of the advanced generation Tempest programme, due to enter service in the mid-2030s. New manufacturing methods are being used on Typhoon to help develop the technology.
For example, BAE engineers are now producing 3D printed components for Typhoon, including the cooling system for the next generation radar.
Eurofighter Typhoon is in service with seven nations — Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Austria, Oman and Saudi Arabia — with outstanding orders from Kuwait and Qatar.