It's described by a senior official at the Ministry of Defence as "a dead duck ... expensive and obsolete". The editor of World Defence Systems calls it "10 years out of date". A former defence minister remarked that it is "essentially flawed and out of date". So how on earth did BAE Systems manage to sell 72 Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia on Friday?
One answer is that it had some eminent salesmen. On July 2 2005, Tony Blair secretly landed in Riyadh to persuade the Saudi princes that this flying scrapheap was the must-have accessory for every fashionable young despot. Three weeks later the defence secretary John Reid turned up to deploy his subtle charms. Somehow the deal survived, and last week his successor, Des Browne, signed the agreement. All of which raises a second question. Why are government ministers, even Blair himself, prepared to reduce themselves to hawkers on behalf of arms merchants? Continued.