Airbus has revealed plans to manufacture a new fighter jet, replacing military aircraft systems such as the Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale.
The plan seeks to do away with the F16 and possibly the F-35 for European allies. The Airbus project will be known as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
“Germany and Spain have already signed up for the project and we hope that France would also come on board” Fernando Alonso, the head of the firm’s military branch said.
“We are working on various building blocks in Germany and Spain, some of the financing comes from the governments, we hope for more," Alonso told Handelsblatt, a German newspaper.
The company is also hoping that France will paticipate,"because we have to work together in Europe, there is no more space for two or three different systems”, he added.
If France joined, it might also replace the French fighter jet, the Rafale, when that becomes obsolete in 2030, Handelsblatt said.
Another option would be to buy F35 fighter jets from the US. Investing in US fighter jets would also go against the EU’s mentioned aim to achieve technological and strategic “sovereignty” as part of its new defence plan, which includes a €1.5-billion a year R&D and joint procurement fund designed to stimulate projects such as the FCAS.
The Airbus project arrives as the UK, the EU’s main military power, prepares to start exit talks.
Airbus chief operating officer, Fabrice Bregier, told the Sunday Times that unless the UK negotiates an amicable deal with the EU then it will move those plants elsewhere. He also added that the Brexit deal must permit its staff freedom of movement to come and work in the UK and also allow it to ship parts free from punitive tariffs.
For new productions, it is convenient to have a new plant somewhere in the world. We would have plenty of offers to do that," he said.
"We want to stay in the UK provided the conditions to work in an integrated organisation are met”, he added.