On April 25 – 29, 2018, Berlin welcomed nearly 200,000 people to the annual Innovation and Leadership in Aerospace (ILA) Airshow at the new, soon to be opened Brandenburg Airport in Germany. During the five-day exhibition, leading aerospace companies displayed their best and most impressive products. But more importantly, the event also became an opportunity for France and Germany to publicly solidify and demonstrate their collaboration in aerospace industry.

The Franco-German collaboration was emphasized by Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel during the opening address. The speech heavily emphasized the importance of cooperation in aerospace between Germany and France, especially when it comes to defense. According to Merkel, ILA Airshow is not only an exhibition of aerospace innovation, but also a symbol of Franco-German partnership.

The Airshow was also attended by German and French defense ministers Ursula von der Leyen and Florence Parly respectively. The ministers drew attention to three main projects: the development of a new generation of fighter aircraft - Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a new long-distance naval reconnaissance aircraft Maritime Airborne Warfare System, and a European Medium Altitude Long Endurance unmanned aerial system (EuroMALE).

Arguably the most awaited project among the three is FCAS – a joint venture between the two countries to replace Rafale and Eurofighter in both air forces. During the Airshow, both ministers signed the High Level Command Operational Requirement Document (HLCORD) defining the needs of both air forces. The aim is to avoid the blunder of Eurofighter program, when France pulled out because of the digression of criteria for the system and went on to build indigenous Rafale.

Another announcement coming from the ILA Berlin was the signing the letter of intent by von der Leyen and Parly to jointly develop a replacement to their respective maritime patrol aircraft. The Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) is set to replace 22 Dassault Breguet Atlantique 2 that entered service in 1992 with the Marine Nationale and the 8 Lockheed P-3C constructed in the 1980s and bought from the Netherlands by the Deutsche Marine in 2006.

The reveal of a full-scale European medium-altitude long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft system (Euro-MALE RPAS), became the third defense project to take the spotlight at ILA Barlin. The surveillance drone backed by French, German, Italian and Spanish governments is being developed by Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo and is expected to rival Chinese, Israeli and U.S. surveillance drones.