September 27, 2018 / 7:12 PM / 7 months ago

Expert study backs Eurofighter in Austrian investigation

VIENNA, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A study commissioned by Austrian prosecutors investigating the country’s $2 billion purchase of Eurofighter jets has backed the jet’s manufacturers, a consortium of Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo, by concluding they were capable of delivering the jets.

Vienna prosecutors launched an investigation into the consortium last year after the defence ministry said it believed they had misled Austria about the price, equipment, and deliverability of the 2003 deal.

The probe includes individuals such as Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders.

The consortium and Enders have denied the accusations.

Parts of the new expert report, commissioned by the Vienna regional court, were seen by Reuters on Thursday.

“There were no delivery problems,” said the report, which was submitted in September.

“Eurofighter has the necessary expertise to successfully complete its contracts and to deliver its products to the customer in the contractually agreed quality, on the contractually agreed dates and at the agreed costs,” it added.

The prosecutor’s office on Thursday confirmed there was a new expert opinion but declined to give any further information.

Austria’s chief lawyer Wolfgang Peschorn rejected the expert study. A report from a police special commission provided “clear evidence” that there was “an inability to deliver,” Peschorn told Austrian broadcaster ORF, which first reported on the new expert report on Wednesday night.

Airbus declined to comment on the report.

Austria initially ordered 18 Eurofighter jets but reduced the order to 15 in 2007. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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