Eurofighter Typhoon consortium’s CEO, Giancarlo Mezzanatto, is strategically focused on advancing Typhoon fighter sales, with a particular emphasis on tapping into the lucrative market potential in the Middle East.
In response to the dynamic global geopolitical shifts triggered by the conflict in Ukraine, Mezzanatto, underlined the strategic significance of the Typhoon in European defense. Having assumed office in May 2023, Mezzanatto is articulating a vision to sustain the Typhoon's operational effectiveness for another 30 to 40 years, adapting to new battle scenarios and ensuring complete interoperability with other NATO assets.
Airbus warns of Eurofighter production shut down by 2030 amid dispute with Germany
Earlier this year, Airbus CEO Michael Schoellhorn acknowledged a shortage of orders, including for the Eurofighter Typhoon. Despite a push from NATO allies to boost production, Airbus is still awaiting additional orders to facilitate a production increase.
Schoellhorn mentioned, "Currently, we don’t have the orders to ramp up any further. We’re waiting for orders to reconfirm that we can keep the lines running" for systems like the Eurofighter or A400 military transport aircraft.
Airbus Defence and Space, in collaboration with Germany’s Metalworkers union IG Metall, is now intensifying a dispute with Berlin over delays in new Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet contracts.
During an "action day" in Germany recently, representatives from the parties urged Berlin to make timely decisions on Tranche 5 and Long Term Evolution (LTE) contracts, warning that without them, Eurofighter production could cease by 2030.
Schoellhorn emphasized the importance of these contracts for sustaining production and developing future capabilities. “Without these measures, production of the Eurofighter will end in 2030,” he said. “For Germany, this would be tantamount to a loss of core military competencies as well as production capacities in the entire supply chain, or simply put: it would be an exit from German fighter aircraft construction.”
The German Ministry of Defence has not yet responded, and Airbus expressed frustration over funding expectations from Berlin's arms fund. The warning of a production shutdown is a significant escalation in the ongoing industry outcry over the matter.
As of October 2023, the Eurofighter consortium had 83 aircraft on order and delivered 597 for partner nations and export customers. The dispute centers on the need for decisive action from German lawmakers regarding Tranche 5 and the perceived crisis jeopardizing the future of Eurofighter production.
Mezzanatto's strategic priorities encompass delivering a 10-year Capability Plan, shaping the future of Typhoon for sustained operational relevance, providing logistic support, and actively supporting new campaigns to sell additional aircraft. These efforts aim not only to fulfill Eurofighter's mission of delivering operational advantages but also to sustain the industrial vision of the Eurofighter program.
In June, the CEO discussed potential sales to Spain and Poland. The company is now preparing to capitalize on new sales and secure additional batch orders for the aircraft, targeting market opportunities for 150 to 200 aircraft in the next two years.
Saudi Arabia wants to buy 54 Eurofighter Typhoon jets, but Germany’s arms ban on the country due to its participation in the Yemen War has prevented the sale.
In his latest interview, Mezzanatto highlighted collaboration with the supply chain to ensure readiness for platform development and new production orders. “We are also strengthening the collaboration with the entire supply chain to make sure that all suppliers are ready to sustain the development of the platform and the new production orders,” he said.
He acknowledged the potential shortage of skilled resources in critical disciplines like avionics, HMI and weapon integration.
The Typhoon, hailed as the most advanced European swing-role platform, has demonstrated its capabilities in both air-to-air and air-to-surface roles within the same mission. Future developments include more powerful sensors with electronic attack capabilities and enhancements to the DASS system for improved survivability in threatening scenarios.
The Long Term Evolution of Typhoon will exploit increased data processing capacities and the evolution of the cockpit and the Striker II helmet, already contracted, will provide the pilots with new display technologies and improved situational awareness.
Mezzanatto identifies the Middle East as a key market, citing real opportunities to enhance Eurofighter's presence. Approximately 20 percent of current Eurofighter orders originate from Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, making them not only important customers but also contributors to the program's capabilities development.
Will Turkey be the next Eurofighter Typhoon customer?
Turkey has outlined its intentions to acquire 40 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes, with plans to source them from England. The procurement is aimed at bolstering the Turkish Air Force, which currently operates F-16 and F-4 warplanes.
Minister of National Defense Yaşar Güler told the parliament on November 16, "We want to buy Eurofighter. It is a very effective aircraft. These aircraft are related to the UK, Germany, and Spain." Güler is confident that Turkey will receive positive reactions from the UK and Spain, and efforts are underway to address the matter with Germany. "If resolved, we aim to proceed with the purchase of 40 Eurofighter jets."
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a statement on Sunday, clarified that the potential acquisition of Eurofighter jets was not discussed during recent talks with German Chancellor Olaf Schulz. He added that Ankara might explore interest in alternative aircraft options.