Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to take their partnership to the next level. The Heads of State announced their will to develop a new fighter jet that would be used by both air forces.
The move could pressure the main actors of the sector such as Dassault, Airbus and Saab. But what should be decrypted here that with the Brexit the continent will have to strengthen its ties regarding security, even if the UK is not leaving NATO. Also, many British companies might be left out of this project, notably BAE Systems. If this scenario becomes a reality, these enterprises shall increase ties with American companies.
BAE Systems has participated in the development of the Eurofighter, and the F-35, originally created for US Air Force and for the Royal Air Force.
The declaration was made during the meeting at the Elysee in Paris, right before the arrival of American president Donald Trump.
Réunion inédite du Conseil franco-allemand de défense et de sécurité pour relancer l’Europe de la défense et lutter contre le terrorisme. pic.twitter.com/1cxITuhKXO
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 13 July 2017
When it comes to projects of this scale, it should be noted that the jets might take at least a good decade before they are actually operational. Why? First, both countries agreed to develop a roadmap by next year. Then there will be research or call for tenders. Therefore, it’s too early to set a deadline. Meanwhile, France will continue to fly the expensive Rafale (Dassault), while Germany remains with its Eurofighters (Eurofighter). These fighter jets were developed in late 1980’s, and although they can be upgraded, they will face technological challenges for which they haven’t been designed for.
Analysts of the sector estimate that manned aircraft will not disappear in the short-term, but they will decrease in numbers taking into account the multiple roles that can be played by drones.
The initiative is perceived as the first step for a more comprehensive strategy. Both governments should establish similar projects for their armies, providing them with the same tanks and other artillery equipment. Besides, an eurodrone should be created in the future.
Having the same military equipment facilitates joint operations in the continent or elsewhere, it should also reduce operational costs, thanks to gains in scale of production.