Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos announced June 25 he would be cutting the number of Eurofighter jets that the country was ordering from European aerospace giant EADS.The order as it stands is for 18 of the fighters, under a contract signed in 2003 by the then conservative OVP government. But the deal has since come under scrutiny amid allegations of bribery.Darabos, of the Social Democrat SPO, did not say by how much he wanted to cut the order, but has hinted that it could be by as much as a third to 12.He has said that savings of 400 million euros (539 million dollars) need to made, and the total order comes to two billion euros.Both Darabos and Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer have spoken in the past of pulling out completely from the contract, which they said was too extravagent for a small, neutral state such as Austria.But the two Social Democrats have had to contend with resistance from their OVP coalition partners.And legal specialist Helmut Koziol, who appeared with Darabos at the press conference announcing the decision, said the legal constraints of the contract mean that any attempt to cancel outright could be costly.The decision to cut the contract has been criticized not just on the right but also in the press.A reduced number of Eurofighters means that they would not be able to assure the safety of Austrian airspace around the clock, but “only in office hours”, said the daily Kronen-Zeitung.But the affair has been complicated by the controversy surrounding how the original deal was made.In April, Austria’s air force chief General Erich Wolf was suspended over irregularities in the contract.Wolf had not managed to clear up the suspicions that a lobbyist for the plane’s constructor EADS had paid 87,000 euros to a company owned by Wolf’s wife when the contract was being negotiated.A parliamentary commission, launched in late October by the Social Democrats, the environmental Green party and part of the far-right, is currently examining the contract signed with EADS.

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