HALLBERGMOOS, Germany, April 4 (UPI) -- NATO has signed a five-year contract with Germany's Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH for support of Typhoon aircraft flown by four countries.
The countries covered under the contract from the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency are Germany, Italy, Spain and Great Britain.
Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH is the holding company for the three-company consortium that builds the aircraft. The consortium includes EADS, Alenia Aermacchi and BAE Systems.
"The five-year support contract is part of a new contract suite agreed with the nations which includes integrated mechanisms for continuing development work on the aircraft and will replace a number of legacy contracts while extending the terms for a longer period," Eurofighter said.
"The agreement demonstrates a commitment by all parties in achieving continued efficiencies on the program; long-term support for the sustainability of aircraft covering all three production tranches and future enhancements and upgrades of the platform."
The Typhoon was first introduced into service in 2003. It is a twin-engine, multi-role fighter with a maximum range of about 1,800 miles. Its service ceiling is 55,000 feet and it has a maximum speed of 1,550 miles per hour at altitude.
Weaponry includes air-to-air Sidewinder, AMRAAM and ASRAAM missiles; and AGM-65 Maverick and AGM HARM air-to-ground missiles.
Eurofighter said performance and affordability of support services are the focuses of the new contract and note that it will also sustain jobs in areas such as engineering, supply chain and program management and manufacturing.
"We were able to win this contract as a result of the excellent work done by Alenia Aermacchi in building a new business model focused on maximizing efficiency and ensuring complete customer satisfaction," said Alenia Aermacchi Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Giordo.
"This is an important achievement which will help to further support development of our engineering capabilities and sustain the existing workforce, in particular at our Turin-Caselle production sites, the operational headquarters for combat aircraft and military training."
Alenia Aermacchi said the Eurofighter contract for the Typhoon is worth more than $660 million to it.
BAE Systems in Britain, Cassidian (an EADS company) in Germany and Spain, and Alenia Aermacchi will work with the defense ministries of the respective countries and their armed services in delivery of services under the new award, Eurofighter said.
"This contract is important for the Eurofighter program but also for the nations and the Air Forces," said Enzo Casolini, Eurofighter chief executive officer. "The contract's goal is not only to deliver savings to the customer, but also guarantee a better management for the processes involved in the sustainability of the aircraft in-service.
"This can be considered a massive step in supporting the enhancements program planned for Eurofighter, which is a fantastic, young platform with plenty of development capability still to be exploited."
Eurofighter says 559 aircraft air under production contract. A total of 321 aircraft have been delivered and are in service. In addition to the core countries covered under the support contract, Austria and Saudi Arabia are also involved.