When one considers that the average aircraft availability rate is only 50 percent (this is claimed to be better than other Luftwaffe types), this means that no more than half a dozen Eurofighters are available for flying operations on a daily basis. According to wing commodore Wing Commander Andreas Pfeiffer, four of these are required for the QRA service (two plus two reserves), so that only two are available for other duties. This rules out intensive training in aerial combat, as Pfeiffer lamented during a visit by FLUG REVUE at the beginning of October
. Despite this, the QRA aircraft take off twice a day on exercise flights even without being alerted.
It will therefore take some time before FW 74 is able to exploit the full potential of the Eurofighter. Despite the overstretched situation, it is planned that FW 74 will participate in international exercises for the first time in 2009. Informally, the pilots from Neuburg recently pitted their skills against their French Rafale colleagues in aerial combat. The results were extremely gratifying, the main difference being the much greater thrust of the EJ200 engine. As far as the pilots are concerned, moreover, the Block 5 standard has brought clear improvements compared with earlier versions of the software. Areas which were previously problematic, such as voice input of commands, now function a lot more reliably.
According to the Luftwaffe's broader plans, Fighter Wing 74 will initially be raised to a strength of 24 Eurofighters before the task of equipping the next unit begins, probably at the end of 2009/beginning of 2010.