Is it really that bad, or is this just popular whinge? I thought the RAF Air Crew all loved them.
Nobody's saying its a bad plane, just that it is completely unneccessary to spend billions on an air superiority fighter when we are unlikely in the foreseeable future to take on an enemy who is in any position to contest air superiority with us or, more particularly, the USA...
... but granted, when we signed the contract, the Russians were giving away FULCRUM and FLANKER for pocket change, to every third-world country with a few million and an attitude. So it probably comes under "seemed like a good idea at the time".
From the Crabs point of view, cancelling it would be right up there with reducing our holdings of Warrior and Challenger because (of course) we need more rapidly deployable forces. Yeah, right.
PS Unfortunately for this point of view, the RAF haven't shot down an enemy aircraft since WW2, while the Navy have apparently shot down over a hundred. This is, of course, why the Fleet Air Arm are having their fighters taken away from them.
Actually, if this is true, then even the NAAFI have shot down more aircraft than the RAF since WWII. During the Falklands war, an ex-army NAAFI canteen manager on one of the ships shot down a Skyhawk with a GPMG.
PPS Yes, individual Crabs have shot down aircraft, but they were serving with USAF squadrons at the time.
I'm afraid that everyone without a vested interest in this (the MOD, BAe, the RAF, etc) agrees that this is totally the wrong aircraft for UK PLC at this moment in time (to illustrate John Keegan has slated it on a number of occasions). We have bought a brilliant dogfighter (without a gun) when what little air combat there is these days is done by missile engagements at 10's of NMs. We desperately need all weather ground attack with some sort of loiter capability which Typhoon will never, ever be. The reason the aircrew like it is that frankly a skip with wings would be better than Tornado F3 and its got a cockpit that is less than 30 years old...
Some more thoughts
I count as having had a vested interest, as I spent the 1990s working on the design side of the Eurofighter radar (these days I do something entirely different). Open source material will support me when I say that the "missile engagements at 10's of nm" is handled really very, very well by the aircraft. The aircrew also like it because of the effort that's gone into reliability and maintainability - it takes a third of the effort to keep a Typhoon flying compared to a Tornado, and it's a lot more likely to finish the task with all the kit still working.
The predecessor kit in the Sea Harrier was embarrassing F-15 drivers ten years ago, and this one is a big improvement. Actually, the RAF hated the fact that the most dangerous fighter aircraft in European hands was flown by the Fleet Air Arm.
Granted, we probably don't need so many, and could have got away with something cheaper, but then I remember watching Russian tanks shelling Russians during an attempted coup just after the contract had been signed, and a lot of people getting very twitchy as a result.
My other observation is that it's amazing how many politicians and commentators conveniently seem to have opposed the project all along........ gits. The only person who spoke out consistently was the German Defence Minister of the time, a bloke called Volker Ruhe who actally managed to drive the cost of the project up because he kept insisting on redesigns.....
A year or so back I was trapped in a room with Andrew Neil, late of the Sunday Times, and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former SoS for Defence. In the course of the conversation I was asked by A Neil what the current biggest waste of defence cash was and I replied 'Eurofighter'. It all went strangely silent, as I realised that Rifkind had pushed it through during his tenure. Then he started gabbling: 'It was the RAF, they made me do it' etc etc etc. No attempt to defend the decision, but some acknowledgement that it was a shite contract.
I think the point is here, that some air superiority fighters are probably a good idea, but in the numbers that we are locked into procuring, then no. We could buy an 'off the shelf' product from the US for a fraction of what we're paying now.
Of course, the fact that Ferranti / GEC-Marconi - who developed the radar, the HUD, the DASS, etc - employed thousands of people in Edinburgh, and that Edinburgh South (Rifkind's seat until 1997) was a marginal, wouldn't have affected things.
And "off the shelf" never really is. Trust me, the equivalent US kit is overrated.