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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The politics of defence co-production : the MRCA - Tornado Edgar, Alistair David


The thesis begins with a review of the literature dealing with the incentives and disincentives for pursuing defence co-production policies in Western Europe. Political, economic and military aspects are each dealt with in turn, and their relative importance assessed. Following this section is a case study of the Panavia Multi-Role Combat Aircraft - the 'Tornado' - now in service with the air forces of West Germany, Britain and Italy. The study traces the progress of the MRCA programme from its initial conception through to production. The main theme of the case study is how the concerns of military-operational performance, cost-saving benefits, and programme efficiency were all secondary to government pursuit of wider political objectives. While the general literature was found to focus upon cost-savings in collaborative procurement, such savings are seen to be constrained or even determined by the outcome of frequently unrelated political decisions. Although set within the broad framework of national economic performance and the demands of social needs upon limited public expenditure budgets, these decisions are based upon government preferences rather than industrial or other lobby-group pressures. A cursory evaluation of the MRCA programme and the aircraft itself is included in the conclusion. The project is seen to have achieved mixed success, but with significant problems.

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