Letter: Why Britain needs the Eurofighter

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Sir: Polly Toynbee's article "What defence toys really cost us" (9 June) suggested that the Government was buying Eurofighter as a job- creation scheme and that there was no longer a need for a fighter aircraft. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The British government is buying Eurofighter because, in an uncertain world where we face a variety of risks to British interests and where highly sophisticated combat aircraft are widely available, we need the flexible multi-role capability that Eurofighter will provide. Eurofighter will be able to contribute both to achieving air superiority - crucial to the protection of our forces from air attack - and to ground-attack operations.

Contrary to what Polly Toynbee says, recent operations in both the Gulf and Bosnia have underlined the need for both these capabilities. Indeed, the avoidance of aerial combat in the Gulf War - far from assured at the outset - demonstrated just how successful coalition forces were in establishing air superiority. The extensive operational analysis that has been conducted has conclusively demonstrated that the multi-role capability of Eurofighter is by far the most cost-effective solution to our needs.

It is, of course, true that Eurofighter will sustain many thousands of jobs and is crucial to the future of the UK and European aerospace industry. It is, however, being bought in order to provide the Royal Air Force with the equipment it needs to carry out the operational tasks required of it.


Secretary of State

Ministry of Defence

London SW1