Frand and Germany plan to come up with a roadmap for joint development of a new European fighter jet and replacement of the existing fleet by mid-2018.
"Today there are too many European standards and qualifications and sometimes there is competition among Europeans internationally," French President Emmanuel Macron was quoted as saying by Reuters during a news conference along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday.
France and Germany said their new combat system, which analysts say could involve a mixture of manned and unmanned aircraft, would replace the Rafale and Eurofighter, rival jets that compete fiercely for global sales.
The move will have deeper effects on the other European fighter jet, Sweden Saab’s Gripen.
France and Germany aim to come up with a roadmap by mid-2018 for jointly leading development of the new aircraft to replace their existing fleets of rival warplanes, according to a document issued after a Franco-German cabinet meeting in Paris.
Germany and France were working out specific proposals for a European Union defense fund ahead of a bilateral ministerial meeting on July 13.
“Both the countries are aiming to become the motor of a European defense union and want to implement the defense fund in a smart way," German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview published last month.
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 had said last month.
“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.
With France joining, it might replace the Rafale, when that becomes obsolete in 2030.
All this comes at a time when the UK, the EU’s main military power, prepares to start exit talks.
Defense industry experts called the move a setback to Britain and its leading arms contractor, BAE Systems.
"It is a sign to the British. It means 'you are leaving the EU and we are driving forward. We are no longer interested in you blocking the EU on defense'," a senior German defense industry official told Reuters.