Austria Delays Saab-105 Replacement Until Final Decision on Eurofighter Court Case

 In Land, Defense, Forces & Capabilities

Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner announced during a July 6 press con­fer­ence in Vienna that Austria will retire its Saab-105 jet train­ers by the end of the year, but will defer deci­sions on their replace­ment until a final ruling in its legal case against Airbus. (AUT MoD photo)

VIENNA — Today, Monday, the defense spokes­men of all par­lia­men­tary par­ties, air­space sur­veil­lance experts from the army, the chief of staff, the pres­i­dent of the finance procu­ra­tor and the Federal Minister of Defense met to dis­cuss the future of air­space sur­veil­lance in Austria.

The focus was on the Eurofighter legal case and the suc­ces­sor to the Saab 105 OE.

Eurofighter legal case

At the begin­ning of the ses­sion, an overview of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the Eurofighter case was pre­sent­ed. In sum­ma­ry, it can be assumed that in the con­text of the Eurofighter pro­cure­ment, Airbus / Eurofighter cor­rup­tion and decep­tion against the Republic has occurred since 2002 and in the 2007 com­par­i­son.

For this reason, the Republic of Austria, after unsuc­cess­ful pro­ceed­ings in the past, again sub­mit­ted a fac­tu­al report to the Vienna public pros­e­cu­tor’s office in 2017 on sus­pi­cion of seri­ous fraud (crim­i­nal code sec­tions 146, 147). The Republic of Austria also par­tic­i­pat­ed in the crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings in order to assert civil rights claims.

At the begin­ning of 2019, the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office trans­ferred this pro­ce­dure to the WKStA. In February 2020, it became known that Airbus had admit­ted for the first time in a court case in the United States that it had prac­ticed unfair behav­ior in the ini­ti­a­tion and exe­cu­tion of trans­ac­tions world­wide. It was also admit­ted that there were at least 55 mil­lion euros in polit­i­cal grants in Austria.

On the basis of these new find­ings, the Federal Ministry of Defense in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Finance Procurator intro­duced a new state of affairs in May.

“The Republic of Austria will con­tin­ue to use all legal means to achieve the goal of with­draw­ing from the Eurofighter con­tract, and to be com­pen­sat­ed by Eurofighter. Until the final deci­sion of the judi­cia­ry, no deci­sions regard­ing air­space sur­veil­lance will be taken which could affect Austria’s posi­tion on Eurofighter,” said the Minister of Defense.

Next steps in air­space sur­veil­lance

In the past three years there have been three dif­fer­ent com­mis­sions or expert reports com­mis­sioned by the respec­tive min­is­ters, in which the nec­es­sary next steps in rela­tion to air­space sur­veil­lance in Austria have been ana­lyzed. These were the spe­cial com­mis­sion under Defense Minister Doskozil in 2017, the eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion under Defense Minister Kunasek in 2018 and the report “Unser Heer 2030” under Defense Minister Starlinger in 2019.

Austria is cur­rent­ly oper­at­ing a two-fleet system for active air­space sur­veil­lance. A com­bi­na­tion of Eurofighter super­son­ic air­craft for air­space sur­veil­lance and Saab 105 sub­son­ic planes for train­ing that com­ple­ment air­space sur­veil­lance, which can ensure around 10 hours of oper­a­tional readi­ness per day for air­space sur­veil­lance, with 94% cov­ered by Eurofighter and 6% by Saab 105.

It is clear that the Saab 105 can only be used until the end of 2020 — this has been known for sev­er­al years.

If one looks at the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, one can con­clude that none of these coun­tries has a two-fleet system for active air­space sur­veil­lance. Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia and Switzerland also have a single fleet system. Slovenia has Hungary and Italy to pro­tect its air­space as part of NATO mem­ber­ship.

The rec­om­men­da­tions from the three reports do not paint a clear pic­ture. The Doskozil Special Commission rec­om­mends switch­ing to a single fleet system for active air­space sur­veil­lance, as does the Kunasek Evaluation Commission. So, they spoke out against the Saab 105 OE replace­ment. The Starlinger report makes the rec­om­men­da­tion to pur­chase a second fleet to sup­port the Eurofighter and for train­ing.

Klaudia Tanner: “We are grate­ful for the exten­sive reports and rec­om­men­da­tions pre­pared by the three com­mis­sion. These will form the basis for deci­sions about the future of our air­space sur­veil­lance.”

Conclusions

It is clear that the Republic of Austria is con­tin­u­ing to vig­or­ous­ly pursue the Airbus case.

Regarding the nec­es­sary steps in rela­tion to the Saab 105, it is stated that both the Doskozil Commission and the Kunasek Commission have not rec­om­mend­ed any replace­ment, in our neigh­bor­ing coun­tries air sur­veil­lance is orga­nized every­where by a single fleet system and that — even if a pro­cure­ment process is ini­ti­at­ed now — the new air­craft would not be ready by early 2021. A tran­si­tion­al solu­tion would there­fore be nec­es­sary for both a single fleet system and a two-fleet system.

The fol­low­ing key points will be ensured until the legal dis­pute regard­ing the exit from the Eurofighter con­tract is resolved:

1. The Saab 105 will be “phased out” due to the end of its tech­ni­cal life and will not be replen­ished.

2. Measures are taken to con­tin­ue to ensure air­space sur­veil­lance and pilot train­ing.

3. A broad dis­cus­sion process at par­lia­men­tary level is start­ed to explore the options for the period after the Eurofighter pro­ce­dure has been com­plet­ed.

Chief of Staff Robert Brieger said: “In order to secure Austrian air­space for the next max­i­mum of ten years, we have to train one or two pilots a year. It is nei­ther mil­i­tar­i­ly nec­es­sary, nor cost-effec­tive, to pur­chase a second system. Pilots and employ­ees deployed on the Saab 105 OE are urgent­ly needed for other air fleets of the Armed Forces. In future, the train­ing will also take place abroad, as it did before.”

Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner said: “All of our deci­sions today are based on expert opin­ions, includ­ing those from the General Staff. It is our respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect air­space in a cost-effec­tive and ade­quate manner. We will do that. It is clear that we not do any­thing that weak­ens our posi­tion towards Eurofighter / Airbus.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Airbus Defence and Space did not respond to a request for com­ment.
Reuters quoted a com­pa­ny offi­cial as saying that “From Airbus’ per­spec­tive, noth­ing has changed in this matter,” adding that it viewed demands for repa­ra­tion or rever­sal of the deliv­ery con­tract as “not found­ed on any legal basis”.)

-ends-

Defense Aerospace source|articles

Recommended Posts
0

Start typing and press Enter to search