France, Germany and Spain have reached an agreement on starting the next phase of development of a new combat aircraft dubbed FCAS, Europe’s largest defense project with an estimated cost of more than 100 billion euros ($103.4 billion). ), the German government said on Friday.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement that an industrial agreement was reached after extensive negotiations, confirming an earlier Reuters account that the three countries and their industries made an agreement.
The ministry said it was agreed at the highest level of government to take an equally collaborative approach to the project, which falls under overall French responsibility.
Spain’s Defense Ministry said Madrid will spend 2.5 billion euros ($2.58 billion) on the project, of which 525 million euros ($542 million) will be paid in 2023. The ministry said the cabinet approved these expenditures but gave no further details. .
“The political agreement on FCAS is a wonderful step and – especially in these times – an important sign of the excellent Franco-German-Spanish cooperation,” said German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.
“It strengthens Europe’s military capabilities and secures important know-how not only for our industry, but also for European industry.”
Earlier, the sources said that the next development phase of the Future Air Combat System (FCAS) is expected to cost around 3.5 billion euros, to be shared equally by the three countries.
French Dassault (AM.PA)Airbus (AIR.PA) and indra (IDR.MC) – the latter two representing Germany and Spain, respectively – are involved in a scheme to start replacing the French Rafale and the German and Spanish Eurofighter from 2040.
“Now, a number of formal steps need to be taken in the respective countries in order to allow the speedy signing of the contract that we will have to comply with,” Airbus said in emailed comments.
French President Emmanuel Macron and then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel first announced plans for FCAS in July 2017, which would include a combat aircraft and an array of associated weapons, including drones.
Recently, the project – originally intended to unite Europeans after the migration crisis and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union – has been a source of tension between the two countries.
And last month, Macron canceled a joint Franco-German ministerial meeting due to disagreements with Berlin on a wide range of issues including defense and energy projects.
Both sides have been struggling for more than a year to agree on the next phase of FCAS development, although the French and German governments have broadly agreed on the project.
Some sources saw Dassault as being to blame, as the company refused to back down in a long-running dispute over intellectual property rights.
Other sources blamed Airbus for pushing for a larger working stake in the Dassault-led project, and insisted it should be given a “par footing” with the French company.
($1 = 0.9675 euros)
Writing by Sabine Siebold; Edited by: Kristi Knoll, Christophe Steitz, Louise Heavens and Emilia Sithole Matares
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