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.
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.