Spain, Belgium and Italy have shown interest in a European fighter jet project announced by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in July.
Airbus Defence and Space chief executive Dirk Hoke said Friday that France and German should "quickly" move forward with plans for a joint European fighter jet system to replace their current fighter jet fleet which may become obsolete in "about 15 years' time".
"On the assumption that the necessary political will is in place, Airbus is offering to drive cooperation with its European partners and to shape this aspect of our common European future," Hoke said in an op-ed published in Griephan Briefe, a German defence weekly.
European countries should jointly develop the next generation fighter jets to avoid becoming too reliant on US technology, he said. Such a partnership would save money and remove competition between different jets currently on the market.
"To date, the countries of Europe have indulged in expensive customized national solutions or have made their means of national defence dependent on the USA," Hoke said in an obvious reference to French forces using the Rafale jet manufactured by French Dassault, while Germany uses the Typhoon made by the Eurofighter consortium and other European nations use American planes such as the F-18, F-16 and F-35.
Hoke’s call may be difficult to implement for European nations such as Belgium, Norway, Finland, Turkey, UK, Italy and the Netherlands which have invested into the F-35 program. Germany itself is considering the F-35 as part of its fighter replacement program.
In addition, France has lucrative international orders for its Rafale jet while the Eurofighter Typhoon has international sales predominantly in the Middle East.