Airbus was accused of fraud and wilful deception in connection with a $2 billion 2003 Eurofighter order by previous Austrian government
The new Austria government has decided to re-look into the previous cabinet’s decision to withdraw the Eurofighter from service in 2020.
As explained by Reuters, Defence Minister Mario Kunasek’s Social Democratic predecessor Hans Peter Doskozil started an unprecedented legal battle with Airbus and the consortium a year ago, accusing them of fraud and wilful deception in connection with a $2 billion 2003 Eurofighter order.
Austrian investigators started a legal probe of the consortium and individuals including Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders based on the ministry’s allegations soon afterwards.
Airbus and the consortium deny the Austrian allegations. However, Airbus agreed to pay $99 million to settle a German investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the Austrian purchase earlier this month.
Austria initially ordered 18 Eurofighter jets but reduced the order to 15 in 2007.
Last July, Doskozil said Austria planned to end its Eurofighter programme early and replace it with a cheaper alternative fleet of aircraft bought or leased from another government.
The defence ministry said then that Austria’s 15 Eurofighter jets could be phased out from 2020. The continued use of the planes for 30 years – the normal life span of such jets – would cost up to 5 billion euros ($6.24 billion), largely for maintenance.
But now Defence Minister Mario Kunasek said new developments require a reassessment of the decision.
Austria’s chief lawyer Wolfgang Peschorn however ruled out any new deal with the industry unless there is compensation to his country.
Photo credit: Bundesheer
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