German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius and his Spanish and French counterparts Margarita Robles and Sébastien Lecornu signed the deal in Madrid on Friday. The agreement was reached in principle last November, after the project had previously caused tensions between Germany and France.
FCAS is to be operational from 2040 and replace the Eurofighter.
— Verteidigungsministerium (@BMVg_Bundeswehr) April 28, 2023
Pistorius stressed that the long development time does not contradict his recent order for shortened procedures in defence procurement. “We are talking about a sixth-generation fighter aircraft that will still be flown when I am long gone,” Pistorius told journalists.
The project needs steady political leadership and support, the minister stressed. It is a yardstick for Europe’s ability to act in times when “we are frighteningly dealing with a war of aggression on European soil again,” Pistorius said, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The companies involved in the development of the new type of fighter aircraft – Dassault from France and Airbus – have argued for a long time about the distribution of tasks and the handling of know-how.
It took more than a year before the industry, under political pressure, was able to reach an agreement for the next programme phase after intensive negotiations. Among other things, this involves the preliminary development of prototypes. The first one could be ready in 2028.
FCAS is intended to fly in conjunction with unarmed and armed drones and is thus more than a combat aircraft. The total cost has been estimated in the hundreds of billions. The industries of Germany, France and, since 2019, Spain are involved in the project.