Joint defence projects

Germany and France will push ahead with the development a new European military jet as well as a reconnaissance drone.

Gemeinsame Rüstungsprojekte
dpa

Maching, Germany (dpa) – Germany and France will push ahead with the development a new European military jet as well as a reconnaissance drone via the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project, according to the defence ministers of both countries.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and her French counterpart Florence Parly visited an Airbus plant in Maching, southern Germany, on Thursday, where a concept study for the system is currently being carried out.

The FCAS, composed of both manned and unmanned weapons systems, is expected to be operation-ready beginning in 2040. The system will allow fighter jets to be accompanied by drones and launcher systems, replacing Germany's current Eurofighter fleet and France's Rafale jets.

Spain is also a fully fledged third party to the project, underscoring its European character. The three countries signed a framework agreement for the development of the new military jet last year.

A first prototype of the new European military aircraft could fly as early as 2026. French firm Dassault Aviation and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus were awarded a joint contract early last year to carry out a concept study for the system.

Experts have estimated that development of the system will cost around 8 billion euros (8.9 billion dollars). Procurement and operation of the system could reach 100 billion euros.

France and Germany are also working on the so-called Eurodrone in collaboration with Spain and Italy. The unmanned reconnaissance aircraft with a wingspan of 26 metres is scheduled to fly for the first time in 2025.