Tuesday

26th May 2020

EU states eye production of new fighter jet

  • Airbus is preparing to make a new fighter jet as the EU rolls out its defence integration project. (Photo: Air Combat Command)

Airbus, the French-based firm, is preparing to make a new fighter jet as the EU rolls out its defence integration project.

Fernando Alonso, the head of the firm’s military branch, told Handelsblatt, a German newspaper, that Germany and Spain have already signed up for the project and that he hoped France would also come on board.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • New weapons system to help create EU defence sovereignty. (Photo: Defence Images)

“We are working on various building blocks in Germany and Spain, some of the financing comes from the governments, we hope for more," he said.

“We hope that France will also participate, because we have to work together in Europe, there is no more space for two or three different systems”, he added.

Referring to EU defence integration, he said: “The time is ripe for making and implementing a decision in Europe”.

The Airbus project is to be called the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and is to replace the Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jet models in Germany as well as the F18 in Spain.

If France joined, it might also replace the French fighter jet, the Rafale, when that becomes obsolete in 2030, Handelsblatt said.

Another option would be to buy F35 fighter jets from the US.

But that would be seen as an untimely gift for US leader Donald Trump, who has belittled and confused EU allies since coming to power.

Investing in US fighter jets would also go against the EU’s stated aim to achieve technological and strategic “sovereignty” as part of its new defence plan, which includes a €1.5-billion a year R&D and joint procurement fund designed to stimulate projects such as the FCAS.

Brexit implications

Trump aside, the Airbus project comes as the UK, the EU’s main military power, prepares to start exit talks.

Airbus currently employs 10,000 people at two manufacturing plants in the UK.

But its chief operating officer, Fabrice Bregier, told the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, that unless the UK negotiates an amicable deal with the EU then it will move those plants elsewhere.

He said the Brexit deal must allow its staff freedom of movement to come and work in the UK and must allow it to ship parts free from punitive tariffs.

"For new productions, it's very easy to have a new plant somewhere in the world. We would have plenty of offers to do that," he said.

"We want to stay in the UK - provided the conditions to work in an integrated organisation are met”, he added.

Correction: The article now says Spain aims to replace its F18 jet, not F16, as previously reported.

EU to spend €1.5bn a year on joint defence

The Commission has offered to put aside €1.5 billion a year for joint defence spending in what could be the first step toward the creation of an EU army.

Airbus calls for end of legal battles with Boeing

The EU aircraft maker wants Europe and the US to agree on their subsidy policies for Airbus and Boeing after the WTO ruled that both companies benefited from illegal tax breaks.

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

Coronavirus

ECB promises (almost) whatever it takes

The eurozone's central bank has promised to buy up to €750bn of government and private bonds in new pandemic counter-measures.

Opinion

What does coronavirus 'Black Swan' mean for markets?

Falling demand and prices for oil and raw materials will revive the risk of deflation. The collapse in international trade and long-term rethinking of China's role as the major hub for the production of consumer goods and electronics is inevitable.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Latest News

  1. Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK
  2. EU and UK stumbling into Irish border crisis
  3. Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants
  4. How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending
  5. Herman Van Rompuy on power and influence in the EU
  6. EU links access to recovery fund to economic advice
  7. EU wants to halve use of pesticides by 2030
  8. Top editors alarmed by media cuts in EU and beyond

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us