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Only 12 pilots for 15 Eurofighter jets

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One of Austria's Eurofighter jets. Photo: APA
16:54 CEST+02:00
There are now only 12 pilots available to fly Austria's 15 Eurofighter jets - which were purchased in a dubious and controversial deal.

Previously Austria had 18 trained pilots - but for financial reasons it can now only afford to employ 12, a spokesman for Defence Minister Gerald Klug said. 

Flying hours have had to be reduced, but at the same time pilots must complete a minimum of flying hours - meaning they have had to employ a smaller pool of pilots. Some pilots have been redeployed in the army, as flight simulator trainers. 

Since the previous centre-right government made the unpopular decision to acquire the Eurofighters back in 2002, the aircraft has been a cause of political disagreement and remains at the centre of national defence debate.

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A 2008 report by the court of auditors calculated that instead of getting 18 state-of-the-art jets at a price of €109 million each, as stipulated by the original contract, a revised deal meant that Austria was suddenly paying an increased unit price of €114 million for 15 partially used, less-advanced jets. 

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