The Dash 5 and the Dash 9/Mk II represent a tour de force of French know-how and technological prowess. It does have
it´s price however. (Manufacturers are never keen to divulge the unit price of their products, preferring instead to quote system prices including all manner of support equipment and through-life costs that veil the true unit price).
Dash 5/Mk II probably has a unit price of about US$ 37- 40 million. American manufacturers will always have the advantage of being able to rely on comparatively large domestic orders with all the benefits that accompany large scale
procurement and production.
Europe currently finds itself in the unenviable position of producing no less than three different fourth generation fighters, namely the Typhoon, Gripen and Rafale in addition to the 3rd/4th generation Dash
5/Mk II. It is said that the avionics account for about 40 % of the unit cost of a late third or fourth generation fighter and it is here that the greatest potential for cost -savings is to be found. It would be fair to assume that these
fighters will be in service for the next 40 years (the Mirage perhaps another 20 years). If this is the case, then all European manufacturers must mix water with their wine and accept that, at least with regard to avionics upgrades, great
effort must be made to harmonise development of future systems that can be integrated into the different airframes, whether they be French, Anglo - European or Swedish (for example, a common radar). With regard to air-to-air missiles
things are looking better. Britain, France, Sweden and Italy have committed themselves to METEOR. The German IRIS-T short range dog-fighting missile has also attracted the commitment of several European nations.
If European governments
and manufacturers fail to radically revise their current procurement, development and selection processes, European nations will end up assembling American aircraft or perhaps tightening the wheel nuts and inflating the tyres.