PARIS: France and Germany on Wednesday announced a 65 million euro ($74 million) contract financed equally by both countries over two years as the first act of the joint program to design a next-generation combat jet system.
Dassault Aviation and Airbus will build the system which is expected to be operational from 2040 with a view to replacing over time Dassault’s Rafale and Germany’s Eurofighters.
“This contract is entrusted to Airbus and Dassault who are the prime contractors of this ambitious system,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said in a speech alongside her German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen.
“This contract is the very first brick of a stupendous building.”
The French and German governments awarded the companies involved additional contracts to advance technologies and work to have the first demonstrators flights by 2025.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel first announced plans in July 2017 for the new Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which will include a fighter jet and a range of associated weapons, including drones.
After nearly two years of preparatory work by the companies involved, Wednesday’s agreements and contract signing will pave the way for the program to begin in earnest.
The initial contracts will run for two years.
France’s Safran and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines will jointly develop the new warplane’s engine, Safran said in a statement.
Parly and Von der Leyen announced the deal at a Safran site in northeastern Paris, where representatives of the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding.