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The Air Force of the Federal Army will continue to fly Eurofighter for the time being. This was announced by the Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner. The Alpine Republic currently has 15 Tranche 1 machines in use. They should remain in use for as long as the current contract with Airbus is running. The main reason is probably that the costs are too high if you exit the current contract with Airbus.

Austria bought the Eurofighter in 2003 for around 1.75 billion euros. The planned number of 24 aircraft - with options up to 30 - has already been greatly reduced for cost reasons. The current machines were delivered between 2007 and 2009 and have been criticized almost entirely since then. In addition to the technical challenges at the beginning of the Austrian Eurofighter era, the Air Force criticized the excessive operating costs. Officially, the cost was $ 73,000 per flight hour. Airbus denied this vehemently. In addition, there were years of legal quarrels in the so-called Eurofighter affair due to allegations of corruption in connection with the awarding of the combat aircraft.

At the same time, the remaining 12 Saab 105 OE will be retired from 2021. They have been delivered since 1970. There will be no successor for the aged aircraft. The Saab 105 OE are used in parallel to the Eurofighter for airspace surveillance and for the training of pilots. The pilot training is relocated abroad, the airspace surveillance is then carried out exclusively with the Eurofighter. According to statements from the Vienna Ministry of Defense, around ten hours of operational readiness per day can be ensured for airspace surveillance, with 94 percent covered by the Eurofighter and six percent by the Saab 105.

Österreich fliegt weiter Eurofighter
Österreich fliegt weiter Eurofighter

Defense Minister Tanner wants to continue to use all legal means to get out of the Eurofighter contract earlier, to be compensated by Eurofighter. "Until the final decision of the judiciary, no decisions regarding airspace surveillance will be taken that would worsen Austria's position towards Eurofighter," said the Minister of Defense. However, it did not announce when the current contract with Airbus ends. According to official information, the machines still have around two thirds of their usage time in Austria.

André Forkert