General Luca Goretti, the Italian Air Force’s Chief of Staff, predicts that two ongoing European sixth-generation fighter jet programs will merge further down the line. These are the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and its Next Generation Fighter (NGF), developed by France, Germany, and Spain, and the Team Tempest composed of the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Italy.  

“It is natural that these two realities will merge into one, because investing huge financial resources in two equivalent programs is unthinkable," Goretti told Italy’s Parliamentary Committee on Defence, as reported by Reuters. 

The Tempest project involves the British companies BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, the European missile manufacturer MBDA, and the Italian defense group Leonardo. The FCAS regroups companies such as the French manufacturers Dassault Assault, and Safran, the German and Spanish branches of Airbus Defense and Space, and the Spanish electronics company Indra. 

The two projects are intended to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale fighter jets in their respective European air forces. 

Another Eurofighter blunder in the making? 

It is not the first time that the idea of merging the two programs has been raised. In March 2021, as trouble was brewing between Dassault and Airbus regarding the distribution of the FCAS subprograms, Eric Trappier, Dassault’s CEO, said a merger was “not on the agenda”. 

The political side seemed more receptive to the idea. “The door is open,” Joël Barre, the French General Delegate for Armaments, told BFM Business at the time. “If we can one day bring together the two combat aircraft projects that exist today on a European scale, it will be a good thing.” 

However, combining the two programs could cause difficulties, as their requirements differ in several areas. For example, the British Ministry of Defence confirmed that the Tempest will not be carrier-capable, unlike the NGF which is due to operate on the successor of France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. A scenario reminiscent of the disagreement that led to the development of the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale. 

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During a hearing with the French Senate, Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, detailed the concessions made for the FCAS program and hinted at a “plan B.”