German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart Florence Parly have appeared at an air show in Berlin to present a plans to jointly develop a next-generation fighter jet.
According to the Reuters, the German and French defence ministers signed a document outlining the high-level common requirements for a new fighter jet, a letter of intent to explore joint development of a maritime warfare aircraft for use from 2035 and a concept of operations for a joint training and operation of a fleet of C-130J transport planes.
“This is a historic agreement,” Parly told a throng of journalists, military officials and industry executives. “It shows that Europe is more than a sum of medium-sized powers, and can take its fate into its own hands and ensure its autonomy.”
Germany jointly with French are to take over the development of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a complex project incorporating an “optionally manned” command platform, unmanned components and a new fighter plane that is being tentatively scheduled for takeoff around 2040.
According to the German Defence Ministry factsheet, this plane does not yet have a name, and is only referred to as a Next Generation Weapons System (NGWS). Nor are many other details known about the aircraft, other than that it will carry both air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles.
The move to develop a new warplane is seen as a preliminary step towards overcoming differences that have left Europe struggling to maintain three competing fighter programs – France’s Rafale, Sweden’s Gripen and the Eurofighter, involving Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain.