The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems, and EADS; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986. The project is managed by the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency, which acts as the prime customer.
The series production of the Eurofighter Typhoon is underway, and the aircraft is being procured under three separate contracts (named "tranches"), each for aircraft with generally improved capabilities. The aircraft has entered service with the Royal Air Force, the German Luftwaffe, the Italian Air Force, the Spanish Air Force, the Austrian Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The financial burdens placed on Germany by reunification caused Helmut Kohl to make an election promise to cancel the Eurofighter. In early to mid-1991 German Defence Minister Volker Rühe sought to withdraw Germany from the project in favour of using Eurofighter technology in a cheaper, lighter plane. Due to the amount of money already spent on development, the number of jobs dependent on the project, and the binding commitments on each partner government, Germany was unable to withdraw; "Rühe's predecessors had locked themselves into the project by a punitive penalty system of their own devising."
In 1995 concerns over workshare appeared. Since the formation of Eurofighter the workshare split had been agreed at the 33/33/21/13 (United Kingdom/Germany/Italy/Spain) based on the number of units being ordered by each contributing nation. All the nations then reduced their orders. The UK cut its orders from 250 to 232, Germany from 250 to 140, Italy from 165 to 121 and Spain from 100 to 87. According to these order levels the workshare split should have been 39/24/22/15 UK/Germany/Italy/Spain, Germany was unwilling to give up such a large amount of work. In January 1996, after much negotiation between UK and German partners, a compromise was reached whereby Germany would purchase another 40 aircraft. The workshare split is now 43% for EADS MAS in Germany and Spain; 37.5% BAE Systems in the UK; and 19.5% for Alenia in Italy.The next major milestone came at the Farnborough Airshow in September 1996. The UK announced the funding for the construction phase of the project. In November 1996 Spain confirmed its order but Germany again delayed its decision. After much diplomatic activity between the UK and Germany, an interim funding arrangement of DM100 million (€51 million) was contributed by the German government in July 1997 to continue flight trials. Further negotiation finally resulted in German approval to purchase the Eurofighter in October 1997.