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Three NATO Nations Sign Agreement To Build New Fighter

May 16, 1988

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ West Germany, Britain and Italy signed an agreement Monday to build a high- tech jet fighter.

Spain, also a NATO member, is expected to be a fourth partner in the $39 billion project but its parliament has not yet approved participation.

After the signing ceremony Britain’s defense minister, George Younger, praised plans to develop Fighter 90, a two-engine, single-seat aircraft capable of flying in all weather conditions.

″It will play a key part in our continued success - together with our other allies - in preventing war between East and West,″ Younger said.

The first of 800 Fighter 90s are scheduled for service in 1996.

Britain and West Germany each will pay about one third of the project costs, Italy will cover 21 percent and Spain 13 percent. Government officials in Bonn have said West Germany’s share will be about 22.5 billion marks ($13 billion).

Rudi Walther, an opposition Social Democratic member of Parliament, claimed the estimate was about half the true cost and declared: ″This agreement has been signed totally on the basis of wrong figures.″

Friedhelm Ost, chief government spokesman, said the estimates were worked out carefully and ″any other figures are fairy tales, speculations and allegations.″

Hermann Scheer, another Social Democrat in Parliament, said Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government was joining the project to win points with industry leaders.

″It is apparent that political rather than military reasons were the prime consideration in the decision to develop and produce the Fighter 90,″ he said in a statement.

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