GOTTINGEN, Germany — The German Air Force has temporarily suspended delivery of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets following the discovery of quality problems involving the connection between the vertical stabilizers and the body of the aircraft.
In a notification to the German Bundestag, the Ministry of Defence said that drillings and the removal of burr were not conducted according to specifications.
The Typhoon suffered a similar problem last year when Germany, Italy and Spain all halted deliveries of the jet after a number of drilled bolt holes in a different part of the rear fuselage were identified as having not been de-burred satisfactorily.
The Eurofighter consortium confirmed that it had now found a new manufacturing quality problem on the aircraft.
"A manufacturing non-conformance has been identified during the assembly of the fin to the rear fuselage of the aircraft manufactured to date. The topic is related to the holes drilled for four of the bolts that connect the fins to the rear fuselages," Eurofighter said in a statement.
Consortium member BAE Systems is responsible for the manufacture of parts involved in last year's problem, as well as the current issue.
The consortium, which involves Airbus Defence and Space, BAE Systems, and Finmeccanica, said the problem does not affect aircraft flight safety and therefore there will be no operational or life-time limitations to the Typhoon.
A spokesman for the German MoD stressed that while flight safety is not affected in the short run, long-time effects were possible.
Acceptance of delivery at this point could impact warranty claims, he said.
The MoD note to the Bundestag said that it could not be ruled out that the structure of the fast jet and the bolted connections in the specified area may be damaged.
Experts of the Bundeswehr, the NATO agency NETMA and industry are analyzing the problem.
According to the MoD, all of the German Eurofighters delivered from tranche 1 through to the current 3A standard are affected.
All German Eurofighters in service are being closely monitored and operations of the German fleet are not expected to be affected, said the MoD.
The British Ministry of Defence said it was continuing to accept deliveries and operate the aircraft as normal. At this point it is unknown whether other Eurofighter nations will follow the German lead and halt deliveries.
Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain are the core partners in the Typhoon program. Export customers Austria and Saudi Arabia already operate the jet. Oman also has ordered the aircraft, and Kuwait recently said it would purchase 24 Typhoons but has not yet signed a final contract.
Andrew Chuter contributed to this report.