Farnborough day III: Rauen speaks, media listen

In an age where rumour and speculation often cause as many smiles as they do stress, it is always good to just cut to the chase, shoot from the hip or, if you will, simply say it straight. And that is exactly the rationale behind this morning's press breakfast hosted by Eurofighter Aloysius Rauen. What did he say? Well, he just stuck to the facts! - Eurofighter Typhoon is multi-role combat ready - QRA tasks in Germany, Italy and the UK, and air surveillance in Austria - Tranche 2, flight tests complete, ready for Type Acceptance - Tranche 3, proposal for 236 aircraft submitted, negotiations started in June - Worldwide export campaigns explained The Eurofighter Chief was also keen to emphasise two issues of transformation in the program. The first - the refocussing of the Integrated Logistics Support(ILS) concept. The buzz words availability and affordability were added for extra spice, but the premise is the realisation of fleet requirements and the necessity of change and implementation. The agreement with NETMA is in place and the date to meet the first targets is the end of the year. The second transformation is based on a requirement for fast and cost effective capability development AKA "forward development activities". This initiative will have an immediate impact on the Phase One Enhancements(P1E) programme. As such, a change in the Eurofighter Board has been put in place with Brian Phillipson now leading a team to deliver on "forward development activities" and his position of Chief Operating Officer Programmes to be filled, as of 01 August, by Trevor King of BAE Systems fame. There was then a short pause while the Euro-DASS team announced that part of the Defensive Aids system on the aircraft was having its name changed from Euro-DASS pods to Praetorian and then the floor was opened for questions to the CEO. His answers were as follows: - There has been no decision on a reduction in aircraft numbers in Tranche III. 236 aircraft is the figure up for negotiation. - No, the consortium has not offered less capable aircraft to Eastern European nations. They haven't asked for that and we have simply responded to requests. - The Netherlands was not mentioned in the export brief as we view their competitor analysis as a re-validation of a previous decision and we will only re-enter if they initiate an open competition with a "real" bidding process. - Insertion of an E-scan radar is part of the Phase II Enhancements package (proposal delivered in May) but hardware provisions have already been covered in Tranche II. And that seemed to do it for the media guys. We wait with baited breath for tomorrow's reports in the show daily newspapers and we'll bring you the best bits.