The European multirole combat aircraft (MRCA), being developed jointly by Great Britain, West Germany, and Italy, is expected to make its maiden flight during 1973. Delivery of production models of the multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) is planned for 1978. The two-seat airplane will be equipped with variable-geometry wings and will have a gross takeoff weight of 38,000 pounds.
Production work is being split between the three countries. Of the airframe, Britain is responsible for the tail and the front and rear of the fuselage, West Germany the center fuselage section, and Italy the wings. When the program got under way in 1969, it was estimated that 420 of the craft would be required for West Germany, 385 for Britain, and 100 for Italy, but with prices increasing rapidly, total production is expected to run less than 905.
Britain plans to use the multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) in a deep penetration role. West Germany will use it in a close support role, as a replacement for its fleet of 613 Lockheed F-104G Starfighters.
Britain, West Germany, and Italy are dividing airframe development costs on a 42.5-42.5-15 basis and engine development costs on a 40-40-20 basis. The program has a standard language, English, and a standard currency, the West German mark. Aerospace in 1972: European multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) fighter shows how bilateral cooperation between countries could bring resounding success in research and development.