BERLIN/PARIS, Nov 18 (Reuters) - France, Germany and
Spain have reached agreement on starting the next phase of
development of a new fighter jet dubbed FCAS, Europe's largest
defence project at an estimated cost of more than 100 billion
euros($103.4 billion), the German government said on Friday.
The Defence Ministry said in a statement that an industrial
agreement was achieved after intense negotiations, confirming an
earlier Reuters story saying the three countries and their
respective industries had struck a deal.
The ministry said it was agreed at the highest government
level that a cooperative approach on an equal footing would be
pursued in the project, which is under overall French
The Spanish Defence Ministry said Madrid would spend 2.5
billion euros ($2.58 billion) on the project, of which 525
million euros ($542 million) would be paid in 2023. The ministry
said that the cabinet agreed to this expenditure but did not
give other details.
"The political agreement on FCAS is a great step and -
especially in these times - an important sign of the excellent
Franco-German-Spanish cooperation," German Defence Minister
Christine Lambrecht said.
"It strengthens Europe's military capabilities and secures
important know-how not only for our, but also for the European
Previously, sources had said that the next development phase
for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) was expected to cost
about 3.5 billion euros, to be shared equally by the three
France's Dassault, Airbus and Indra
- the latter two representing Germany and Spain,
respectively - are involved in the scheme to start replacing
French Rafale and German and Spanish Eurofighters from 2040.
"Now, a number of formal steps in the respective countries
have to be taken in order to allow a speedy contract signature
which we will have to adhere to," Airbus said in e-mailed
French President Emmanuel Macron and then German Chancellor
Angela Merkel first announced plans in July 2017 for FCAS, which
will include a fighter jet and a range of associated weapons,
Lately, the project - originally meant to unify Europeans
after the migration crisis and Britain's decision to leave the
European Union - has been a source of tension between the two
Last month, Macron cancelled a joint Franco-German
ministerial meeting over disagreements with Berlin on a wide
range of issues including defence and energy projects.
Both sides had been struggling for more than a year to agree
the next stage of FCAS's development, although the French and
German government broadly agreed on the project.
Some sources saw the blame lying with Dassault, as the
company had refused to budge in a long-running row over
intellectual property rights.
Other sources blamed Airbus for pushing for a bigger
workshare of the Dassault-led project, insisting it should be
given "equal footing" with the French company.
($1 = 0.9675 euros)
(Writing by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Kirsti Knolle, Christoph
Steitz, Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)