Air Platforms

Spain declares for Franco-German future fighter project

05 December 2018

The Airbus Next-Generation Fighter concept shown in Berlin in November. Along with concepts from Dassault, this design will help inform the development of demonstrator platforms for the future Franco-German fighter project that Spain is now looking to join. Source: Airbus via IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Spain is to join the Franco-German effort to develop a next-generation fighter (NGF) aircraft as part of a wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS), the country's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 3 December.

Defence Minister Margarita Robles has submitted a letter to her French and German counterparts, Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen, requesting that Spain's request to join the project be formalised in a letter of intent (LOI) or memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Under the project, France, Germany, and now potentially Spain will develop an NGF to fly in partnership with unmanned 'wingmen', with the combination of these two elements comprising the Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS). This NGWS will be combined with all other air assets in the future operational battlespace to form the FCAS system-of-systems. Spain's initial contribution to the project would amount to approximately EUR25 million (USD28 million) over the next two years.

Robles' declaration for the Franco-German project comes three weeks after Jane's first reported that Spain was considering options for the future replacement of its Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fleet in the 2035-plus timeframe and that it was in discussions with Dassault and Airbus, as well as a UK Team Tempest that includes BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA, and Rolls-Royce.

As reported at the time, Brigadier General Leon-Antonio Machés Michavila of the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Español: EdAE) said that the deciding factor as to which team the country would opt for would largely be based on the level of industrial participation being offered. "We want to be partners and not customers," the general said.

While Gen Machés said that Spain was talking to both European parties about future collaboration, a briefing slide he presented showed the country had already decided to be part of the Franco-German project rather than the UK one.

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