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New Eurofighter chief aims to make jet cheaper

06/19/2013 | Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - The new chief of the Eurofighter Typhoon will lay out plans by the end of this year to make the fighter jet cheaper and decision-making quicker, as the aircraft gears up to vie for more business in an increasingly crowded and competitive market.

Alberto Gutierrez, the former head of operations at EADS (EAD.PA) unit Airbus Military who became Eurofighter's chief executive in April, said the goal was to win at least 25 percent of 1,000 potential aircraft sales in the global market.

"In this market, where we are, there is competition and we have to keep on going, finding out whatever improvement is available to catch up, to make the product cheaper and a way of getting into decisions leaner and faster," he said at the Paris Airshow on Wednesday.

He said he intended to lay out the plans by the end of the year but declined to specify figures on how much cheaper the product could become.

One option to make decision-making leaner could be to restructure the way Eurofighter export campaigns are waged by giving them a "single face," he said.

The multi-role Eurofighter combat jet is made by Britain's BAE Systems (BAES.L) and Italian weapons maker Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI), and EADS, representative of Germany and Spain, with each taking responsibility for particular campaigns. EADS's Cassidian arm, for instance, is leading its proposal in South Korea.

The consortium is targeting exports as austerity-minded European governments slash defense budgets and has so far sold jets to Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman outside the core four countries.

It is vying for orders in South Korea, Kuwait, Qatar, Bulgaria and Denmark, Gutierrez said. The Eurofighter's main competitors include Lockheed Martin's LMT.L F-35 jet, Dassualt Aviation's (AVMD.PA) Rafale fighter and the Gripen by Sweden's Saab (SAABb.ST).

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Mark Potter)

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