Jet's cost soars to 13bn pounds

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The Independent Online
THE COST of the advanced European Fighter Aircraft to the British taxpayer has soared to pounds 13bn, it was disclosed yesterday. Most of the extra cost - up from pounds 7.8bn in 1987 - is due to inflation and a decision to buy more aircraft.

Ministry of Defence officials said the 1987 figure covered the cost of development and production for 200 fighters. The new figure takes into account the decision to buy 250. 'When you are dealing with a project of this size and complexity it is not a lot at all,' an MoD spokesman said.

He dismissed reports that the overall cost of the four-nation project had jumped by more than 50 per cent to pounds 32bn.

The aircraft has been dogged by delays and will not now enter service until 2000. The programme was slowed last year, in line with German demands, and the aircraft has still to take to the air because of software problems with its computerised flight control system.

Labour's defence spokesman, Dr David Clark, is to table questions in the Commons about the rising costs.