photo Eurofighter - source flightglobal.com
Sep 14, 2011 By Robert Wall aerospace daily and defense report
LONDON – With two flagship programs in the balance, EADS is awaiting formal government endorsement of both its Eurofighter Typhoon active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and Talarion unmanned aircraft endeavors.
The outlook for the two is slightly split, though. For the Typhoon AESA – deemed critical for the Indian Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft program, which is considering the Typhoon and Dassault’s Rafale – the prospects are internally seen as positive. “We are almost there,” says Cassidian chief executive Stefan Zoller. Since Typhoon buyers endorsed the effort, Zoller says it is “no concern anymore.” The money is being finalized and is expected to materialize.
For the Talarion program, EADS is trying to sustain a similarly positive outlook. But reality is more complex.
Spain and Turkey have signaled their willingness to participate, but the support of Germany and France is crucial to see the program gain traction. Neither country has signed on yet.
Furthermore, EADS is reaching the end of the time it will self-fund Talarion development efforts.
The focus now is securing €300 million to €400 million ($409 million - $545 million) for prototyping work. Zoller notes that spread over several countries, that is a small sum. But he refuses to discuss how long EADS will sustain self-funded activities, noting merely that “there is no deadline,” while conceding “we can’t be going on forever.”
Zoller believes Talarion still has a chance at survival, though, even if France and the U.K. are discussing the Telemos bilateral medium-altitude long-endurance drone effort. Two countries cannot sustain such an initiative, he argues, which is why a broader effort is needed.
When a German funding decision may materialize is uncertain. And any commitment from Paris – even if the government were favorably disposed to Talarion – could be caught up in electoral politics, slowing decision cycles.