The European Commission’s (EC) unified multi-billion-euro defense fund to buy military equipment may affect sales of US-made equipment including Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighters in Europe.
"The protection of Europe can no longer be outsourced," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a defence conference in Prague Friday.
"Over the past decade, it has become crystal clear our American partners consider that they are shouldering too much of the burden for their wealthy European allies."
The European commission on Thursday proposed to mobilise €5.5 billion per year as part of unified defence fund to boost Europe's defence capabilities and to coordinate, supplement and amplify national investments in defence research, in the development of prototypes and in the acquisition of defence equipment and technology.
According to the proposal, the fund will create incentives for member states to cooperate on joint development and the acquisition of defence equipment and technology.
Creation of the fund is seen as a way out of buying expensive American arms and spread defence procurement Euros within the European Union. Juncker in February had said Europe must not cave in to US demands to raise military spending.
The US sees Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece and Poland among prospective buyers for Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation fighter, the F-35 in addition to European allies who have already bought or agreed to purchase the joint strike fighter; Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
As of now, money will pool research into new military technology such as drones and air-to-air refueling planes. There are no talks of developing a next-generation combat aircraft using the fund.
The European Eurofighter consortium which manufactures the Typhoon jet has five customers in Europe. The UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria are current European customers. The Typhoon has not seen an updgrade for a number of years now as EU members balked at the development cost of a new fighter jet, some of whom preferred to put their money on the F-35.
However this could change as European arms companies will surely rush to the EC with proposals to grab a share of the EC's 5.5 billion Euro fund and fighteraircraft could join drones as high-tech defence research ideas.