ROME - The Eurofighter consortium has told Romanian lawmakers that up to 5,000 skilled jobs could be created in Romania if they scrap plans to buy F-16 fighter jets and acquire the Eurofighter Typhoon instead.
The proposal was made May 11 in Bucharest by Maurizio De Mitri, a senior vice president at Alenia Aeronautica, the unit of Italy's Finmeccanica group that is a member of the consortium.
De Mitri outlined plans to sell Romania 24 Tranche 1 Typhoons, which are now flying in Italy following their delivery to the Italian Air Force between the end of 2003 and 2008. The price, including logistical support and training, would be 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), he said.
That matches the price tag for 24 used Lockheed Martin F-16s, which Romania's Supreme Defense Council opted to acquire in March.
But the council's decision to buy F-16s requires Romanian parliamentary approval, and on May 11, the Senate Defense Commission called in representatives of rivals Eurofighter and Sweden's Saab, which builds the Gripen fighter, after stating it wished to hear from Lockheed's competitors.
Swedish officials previously said in April they could sell Romania 24 new Gripen aircraft for $1.3 billion, the same price as the 24 second-hand F-16s, in a deal including training, logistics support, 100 percent offset and easy payment terms.
On May 11, the Eurofighter consortium outlined its deal to the lawmakers, with Alenia executive De Mitri claiming that the 100 percent offset deal, as well as technology transfer and local industrial participation, could generate 5,000 jobs locally.
"Romanian industry could be involved in a logistical support program similar to that seen in other Eurofighter partner nations, which is leading to record performances for the aircraft," a Eurofighter spokesman said.
"Our price also includes logistical support and training, and we are also offering long-term repayment," he added.
The Italian Eurofighters could be delivered between the end of 2011 and the end of 2012, he said.
A spokeswoman at Alenia Aeronautica, which has led the Eurofighter campaign, said the Italian aircraft offered had flown less than 10 percent of their expected lifetime flying hours. A formal offer of the aircraft would be made by the end of this month, she added.