And a new battle tank.
France will take the lead in developing what might be a sixth-generation fighter in a joint program with Germany.
The French Defense Ministry made the announcement this week, as reported by numerous outlets. Paris further announced that work on the plane will begin this year, starting with a study phase. The plane is being jointly developed as the successors to France’s Dassault Rafales and Germany’s Eurofighters. Both of those planes are often referred to as 4.5-generation fighters. It is expected to be operation around 2040.
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel first agreed to explore developing a fighter jet together during a joint cabinet meeting held in July of last year. The move was intended to signal greater European unity following the Brexit vote as well as reduce the inherent competition between European firms. “Today, there are too many European standards and qualifications, and sometimes there is competition among Europeans internationally,” Macron said at a joint press conference with Merkel in July 2017.
Besides the political symbolism, pooling resources together makes sense as the costs of developing high-tech fighter jets are increasingly beyond the means of most European nations. It is of course not a new idea as the Typhoon was developed by the Eurofighter Consortium consisting of Britain’s BAE Systems, Italy’s Leonardo as well as Germany and Spain’s Airbus.