(Adds reaction from German defence ministry)
BERLIN, April 30 The German defence ministry has
no overview of the costs it is incurring for Airbus Group's
Eurofighter jets and will spend twice as much as it
originally planned on the country's most expensive defence
project, federal auditors said.
The German Federal Court of Auditors, which oversees the
government's financial management, said in a report the costs
for the Eurofighter jets over their life cycle would climb to
around 60 billion euros ($83 billion) from an originally planned
30 billion, despite a reduction in the number of jets.
The auditors said operating expenses, especially maintenance
costs, had increased particularly strongly.
They also said the budget of 11.8 billion euros that the
defence ministry had calculated in 1997 for the purchase of 180
Eurofighter jets would be enough to buy only 140 of the planes.
A spokesman for the defence ministry, at a government news
conference, said it was important to distinguish between costs
that had already been incurred and future costs.
"I'm sure that my ministry has absolutely transparent
information on actual expenditure and we've told the Federal
Court of Auditors that repeatedly," he said.
But on investment expenditure yet to be made, especially on
the question of Eurofighters that may still be built, he said:
"I have to admit on this point that the transparency on costs
which the defence minister would want is not there."
($1 = 0.7237 Euros)
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Stephen Brown, Mark
Potter and Dale Hudson)