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Spain joins Franco–German future fighter project

15 February 2019
The defence ministers of France, Spain, and Germany sign an LOI on 14 February for the Spanish to join the FCAS project. Source: Spain in NATO via Twitter

Spain has formally joined the Franco-German effort to develop a Next-Generation Fighter (NGF) aircraft as part of a wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS), with a letter of intent (LOI) signed on 14 February.

The LOI was signed between Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles, French Defence Minister Florence Parly, and German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Under the project, France, Germany, and 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. As previously reported by Jane's , Spain's initial contribution to the project will amount to about EUR25 million (USD28 million) over the next two years.

The LOI comes weeks after Robles submitted a letter to her French and German counterparts on 3 December 2018 requesting that Spain's request to join the project be formalised. Prior to this, in November 2018 Jane's 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 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.

Spain's formal declaration comes seven days after France and Germany announced the launch of the joint concept study (JCS) for the wider FCAS project, with a EUR65 million contract announced by Parly and von der Leyen on 7 February.

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