France, Germany and Spain to develop next-generation fighter jet prototype

It has been announced on Thursday that France and Germany have signed a €150 million deal to develop a next-generation fighter jet, with Dassault Aviation and Airbus building the aircraft. The intention is for the jet to be ready by 2040 with a view to replacing the current Dassault Rafale and German Eurofighter.

“This is a very ambitious project between France, Germany and joined by Spain,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told reporters after a signing ceremony, adding that: “It will enable our nations to face the threats and challenges in the second half of the 21st century … and illustrates our will and ambition for a European defense”.

Spain will join France and Germany later in the year for the initial phase and will be investing €50 million in the project, which has been titled Future Combat Air System (SCAF). The prototype should be completed by 2026 and will cost a total of €4 billion. It is expected the jet will be operational by 2040.

While Dassault and Airbus will build the jet, Safran and MTU Aero Engines will develop the engine, Airbus and MBDA will work on the drones, while Airbus and Thales SA will be responsible for the digital aspects.

In 2018 the UK launched its own “Tempest” program for a new combat jet, though it is hoped that the two projects may merge at a later date to reduce competition from the USA and also China. (€1.00 = US$1.08 at time of publication.)

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