TechGermany debates ending Eurofighter jet embargo to Saudi Arabia

Germany debates ending Eurofighter jet embargo to Saudi Arabia

Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons | MAREK OLSZEWSKI

8:29 PM EST, November 26, 2023

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip is impacting European international politics. In Germany, discussions are escalating over lifting the embargo on sales of Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia. This market could also be of interest to the manufacturers of the French Rafale model.

While the Eurofighter jets are manufactured in the UK, their sale to Saudi Arabia hinges upon Germany's approval. This is because Germany is a partner in the Eurofighter project. The Berlin authorities blocked the transaction in 2018, following the murder of the opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Eurofighters or Rafale?

The UK owns 70 Eurofighters, with an additional 48 ordered by Saudi Arabia still on the list. The British are particularly eager to have Berlin unblock the contract, as their manufacturing of the fighters provides 5,000 jobs in BAE Systems plants, and another 15,000 related jobs.

The main rival of the Eurofighter is the French Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation. While the Rafale currently leads in terms of aircraft contracted for production, at 310 units compared to the Eurofighter's 151, a combined tally of foreign and domestic sales shows the result of the British-German (alongside Italian and Spanish) cooperation to be superior. Eurofighter wraps up with 681 aircrafts against Rafale's 596.

How do they differ?

Both aircraft are twin-engine, multipurpose fighters of similar dimensions, designed in a 'duck' structure, which refers to a setup where the elevator is located in the nose of the fuselage, in front of the wings. They are both available in versions for one or two pilots. The Eurofighter is powered by twin-flow EuroJet EJ200 engines, while the Rafale is equipped with twin-flow SNECMA M88-2 engines. However, the French design is lighter, weighing approximately 10 tons compared to the 12 tons of its competitor.

The Eurofighter can reach a maximum speed of 1,317 mph at an operational altitude of around 60,000 feet, with a declared range of 2,302 miles. Conversely, the Rafale can attain a top speed of 1,325 mph at a lower operational altitude, approximately 55,000 feet. The range is almost the same for both, at around 2,300 miles. Beyond an array of available missiles and bombs, both fighters come equipped with built-in aircraft weapons: a 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon for the Eurofighter and a 30/719B 30 mm caliber cannon for the Rafale.

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