The Eurofighter is one of the most modern combat aircraft in the world but still has a bad reputation in Austria. Because of bribes of around 100 million euros allegedly paid, the Typhoon are not only subject to a parliamentary investigating committee, but they also fell into disgrace with Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil.
According to the Ministry of Defense, this is mainly due to their high operating costs, estimated to be around 80 million euros per year. According to Kurier’s information, it looks as if the 15 Eurofighters, which cost 1.6 billion euros, could be retired from Austrian skies after only ten years.
Months ago, Doskozil set up a 30-man expert committee to look for alternative combat aircraft. The result, which is being strictly kept under wraps by the military, is to be announced next Friday.
It is clear that a 16 aircraft were needed to monitor Austrian airspace. It was simply excluded that another EU country could be able to secure Austrian airspace. As a neutral country, Austria could not enter into such a dependency.
Although the military is being very tight-lipped, signals have been leaked suggesting that a change to the Saab Gripen is recommended by the Commission. A “déjà-vu” for Austria, as in the search for a successor to the Saab Draken in 2003, the Gripen lost to the Eurofighter.
The Gripen (Saab JAS 39), is available as single- and two-seaters and always appears in rankings of the world's best multi-purpose fighter aircraft. Used C / D version aircraft could be available. However, Saab recently introduced the new "Super Gripen" E / F version, which is more capable than its predecessor and more expensive.
But the Eurofighter is not the only problem. The second aircraft type operated by the Austrian air force, the slow Saab 105 jet trainer, can only be used until 2020. For the time being, they are being used interchangeably with the Eurofighter for reasons of cost.
If the Saab 105s are to be replaced, military expert Georg Mader - the Austrian correspondent for the Jane's Defense – can see several options. The M-346 (or the successor M-345) of the Italian armaments company Leonardo, which has already flown, is one possibility, and the Czech Republic’s Aero L-159, a light ground combat aircraft is another, as is the British BAE Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer. The frequently used F-16 from the USA, on the other hand, is only hard to get.
There remains the exciting question: what will happen to the unloved Eurofighters? A resale is considered legally difficult, but conceivable, by defense experts. Or there could be a buyer for the machines.