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Spain grounds Eurofighter jets

Source: AFP - Tue 21st Sep 2010

Spain has followed Germany's lead and grounded its Eurofighter combat aircraft until an inquiry into a possible ejector seat problem is completed, a defence ministry spokeswoman said Monday.

The decision was taken on Thursday, she said, one day after Germany grounded its Eurofighter jets as a precaution, saying that "in certain circumstances the ejector seat does not operate faultlessly in case of emergency."

The problem had been detected during a check and was being taken up with the manufacturers, a German defence ministry spokesman said last week.

Britain's Royal Air Force said Monday it has modified the ejection seat harnesses on its Eurofighter jets after a lieutenant-colonel of the Saudi air force was killed during a training flight in Spain last month involving one of the planes.

A Spanish instructor managed to eject before the Eurofighter Typhoon crashed for an unknown reason and was only slightly hurt, the Spanish defence ministry said at the time.

Saudi Arabia, which took delivery last year of the first of the 72 Typhoons it plans to buy, has its pilots trained to fly the aircraft by the Spanish air force under a bilateral agreement with Madrid.

The Typhoon, a multi-purpose twin-engine fighter jet introduced in 2003, is built by a consortium made up of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), Britain's BAE Systems and Alenia/Finmeccanica of Italy.

It also used by the Italian air force.

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