Germany is considering leaving the 6th generation fighter program developed jointly with France and Spain to join the rival GCAP, which has the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan as partners.
The hypothesis was leaked by a source from The Times in the German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
According to the report, Germany was dissatisfied with the direction of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program, which was halted after a dispute between Airbus and Dassautl over leadership of the project.
Since the end of last year, however, the partners reached an agreement in which the advanced fighter program began to be divided into equal parts, with the companies Dassault (France), Airbus (Germany) and Indra (Spain) leading the development of the system, which includes a drone and a data cloud network.
But, despite the alignment, Scholz would be unhappy with France’s predominance in the project despite the changes. Furthermore, Germany would have doubts about the competitiveness of the fighter compared to the NGAD program, developed by the United States.
The GCAP (Global Combat Air Programme) program has evolved and should have an agreement officially signed by December. The scheme should be similar, with the United Kingdom (BAE System), Italy (Leonardo) and Japan (Mitsubishi) as equal partners.
Both GCAP and FCAS pursue the same goal, delivering a fighter capable of maintaining their air forces with cutting-edge technology as they see external threats grow.
Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as Italy and Spain, have been partners in the Eurofighter Typhon since the 1980s, which would make joining Airbus (a company led by French and Germans) easier.
Olaf Sholz would also be considering lifting the ban on the sale of 48 Typhoon fighters to Saudi Arabia, something that is likely to displease France, as Dassault intends to sell the same number of Rafale aircraft to the Middle Eastern country.
A German government spokesperson, however, stated that “Germany will not withdraw from the FCAS program.”
European stealth fighter
The project for a unique European fighter has been sought after for many decades, but has always come up against prolonged discussions about protagonism. 40 years ago, Dassault decided to abandon negotiations with manufacturers from other countries to launch the Rafale, a rival to the Typhoon.
A joint program bringing together the six countries (and perhaps others like Sweden) has the potential to reduce costs and accelerate development, however, reaching an agreement seems impossible at the moment.
The two new 6th generation fighters are expected to replace supersonic jets such as the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-2 and F-15 from the mid-2030s.