France and Germany said their new combat system, which analysts say could include a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft, will replace the Rafal and Rufeter aircraft, a competition that is fiercely competing for global sales.
“It’s a sign of the British.” That means “you’re leaving the EU as we move forward. We are no longer interested in blocking the EU from defending, “a senior defense official told Reuters. The joint statement did not specify what role Britain could play in the development led by France and Germany. The country is the largest defense spender in Europe and a partner in the Eurofighter project along with Germany, Spain and Italy.
France and the United Kingdom – both permanent members of the UN Security Council – have agreed on close defense and security ties to cooperation in nuclear technology and missiles in 2010, but some French officials have expressed concern over the impact of Britain’s exit from the EU on defense. “It is almost inevitable that the UK will consider a new partnership with America for the next generation of fighters,” said Alexandra Ashbourne-Massley, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank.
“The UK has accepted that it cannot build another fighter on its own, both as a natural evolution of the F-35 program and also because of economies of scale since a small part of the US project deserves more than Franco-German program.” Thursday’s announcement, however, is seen by some as just an opening step in long and unpredictable European negotiations affecting defense companies, including PI and its partners Eurofighter Airbus and Leonardo.
Paris and Berlin also agreed to establish a framework for cooperation on the next model of an Airbus Tiger attack helicopter and tactical air-to-ground missiles. In addition, they will work together to purchase ground systems including heavy tanks and artillery, and said that it is expected to sign a contract before 2019 for the Eurodron military project, which also includes Italy.