Typhoons already being raided for parts
10 July 2008
The Eurofighter Typhoon, Britain’s newest and most advanced fighter jet in RAF history has already been raided for spare parts over a thousand times in its first three years of service.
Only a few weeks ago the Typhoons were declared combat ready. But new information from the MoD reveals that the planes have been raided for spare parts numerous times since the first tranche came into service in 2005, even though the planes have only been used for training and testing exercises.
According to the MoD statistics, there were 1,325 incidents in which RAF mechanics had to take spare parts from one Typhoon in order to keep another operational, including 540 incidents last year. The process is known as cannibalisation and is commonplace throughout the RAF. Yet it is an expensive practice, especially when applied to a brand new fighter jet that costs between £86-£125m per plane.
On average each of Britain’s 144 Typhoons has been cannibalised for spare parts nine times.
The revelation raises serious concerns about the cost of keeping Typhoons operational and why new planes are already being used for spare parts. While many older aircraft can effectively be used for cannibalisation since they are not considered airworthy or are being kept out of the forward fleet for an extended period of time, cannibalising the Typhoons will force the RAF to immediately buy additional replacement spare parts to return the cannibalised planes to the air as quickly as possible.
The Harrier and Tornado fleets, which are much older and larger have been used for spare parts at a similar rate as the Typhoons over the same period. The problematic Nimrod fleet which has been inundated with maintenance problems required less only 1,078 cannibalisations in the same time period.