British Aerospace may continue with Eurofighter project without Germany

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The Independent Online
British Aerospace believes it could press ahead with the multi- billion pound Eurofighter project if Germany decided not to back the venture at a crunch cabinet next month, writes Chris Godsmark.

John Weston, a BAe managing director, also warned that the four partners, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, could be faced with a pounds 250m bill if the German government delayed the project for another year.

Dasa, the German aerospace giant, said yesterday it would stop funding development work on the project if the German cabinet failed to reach a decision on 11 July. BAe has put loans in place to keep work going until the end of the year. Manfred Bischoff, Dasa chief executive, said: "If in July there is no decision by the cabinet to do the programme, we will stop pre-production."

Mr Weston added: "This autumn is when BAe will have to start thinking seriously about the options." The project, worth pounds 40bn, was previously delayed two years due to German budgetary fears.

BAe said it believed that Britain, Italy and Spain would continue with Eurofighter even if Germany pulled out. The group said it believed all three countries would make firm commitments to buy the plane by the end of this month. Around 4,000 people are employed on the project in the UK alone.