Outlook: Raytheon missiles

WHEN A hard-nosed American defence contractor offers to fulfill an order for half the contract price, you can be sure there are catches. In the case of Raytheon's bargain-basement bid to arm the Eurofighter with its latest whizz-bang missile, these fall into two categories.

First, if the Ministry of Defence does indeed decide that Raytheon's offer is too good to resist, it will in effect snuff out the competition from British Aerospace-Marconi, ensuring that the US retains a complete monopoly in advanced air-to-air missile technology.

Second, it will give the US Congress the whip-hand over future sales of the Eurofighter to third countries, since American approval will be required for the export of its missile hardware. In the event that the Eurofighter was in a straight dogfight with a US-built F-22 for a big overseas order, that could make for an interesting vote on Capitol Hill.

That said, the firepower in this defence procurement contest looks to be increasingly on the side of the Americans. The choice lies between buying an enhanced version of an existing US missile which will arm the Eurofighter initially anyway, or an all-new Anglo-French missile, which remains untried and untested.

The Eurofighter is itself already a fantastically expensive folly, having consumed pounds 30bn of British, German and Italian taxpayers' money to preserve a few thousand jobs in Wharton and elsewhere. Helping BAe finance the development of its Meteor missile to arm the aircraft, just to demonstrate that Europe retains a technological capacity of its own in this cutting edge area of weaponry, risks throwing good money after bad.

In any event, there is no immutable reason why Britain should insist on having its own proprietary technology in every branch of military procurement, particularly when the defence industry is becoming such a small world. Was it not the chief executive of BAe, John Weston, himself who ruffled European feathers at the Paris Airshow by setting out his vision of the global (ie transatlantic) defence company?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor