The aircraft manufacturers Dassault, and Airbus, the engine makers Safran, and MTU, as well as representatives from the French, German and Spanish authorities, all involved in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), met in Paris on February 17, 2021, to decide the fate of the program according to Les Echos.
The FCAS has been under the spotlight since the last Franco-German Council on defense and security held on February 5, 2021. In a press conference following the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reopened the long debate of the distribution of tasks among manufacturers.
“It is a project under French leadership but it is still necessary that the German partners can be at a satisfactory level vis-à-vis their partners,” Merkel stressed. “We must therefore see very precisely the questions of industrial property, the sharing of tasks, and the sharing of leadership.”
Several days later, Eric Trappier, the CEO of Dassault Aviation, gave an indirect answer to the Chancellor in an interview with Le Journal de l’Aviation. “We do not make a fighter plane simply to please three countries, we are building combat aircraft to meet operational needs,” Trappier said on February 10, 2021. “We must not sacrifice cooperation to a sharing of tasks at this point balanced to the millimeter.”
But for the German works council of Airbus Defense & Space, the divorce seems long overdue. In an open letter with the IG Metall trade union, they pleaded for Germany to develop its own demonstrator, which would be based on the Eurofighter. “It is crucial to transfer the knowledge of the engineers who developed the Tornado and the Eurofighter to the younger generation of engineers,” was written in the letter. The creation of two demonstrators would quite obviously mean the development of two separate fighter jets, thus challenging the idea of a “joint” project.