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Airbus, Dassault deal on new fighter jet imminent: sources

Airbus and Dassault Aviation are close to an agreement on the next development phase for a new European fighter jet after months of disagreements, two French sources close to the project said Friday.

Launched by France and Germany in 2017 and since joined by Spain, the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) aims to have a next-generation jet in service by 2040, along with integrated drone fleets.

But progress on the new delta-wing stealth aircraft has been plagued by fighting over the sharing of the industrial work as well as intellectual property for the cutting-edge technologies.

In August 2021, the three countries signed an agreement to inject a combined 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) into the project’s initial stage, known as Phase 1B, for building a so-called flight demonstrator starting in 2025.

But the contracts were not signed with Airbus and Dassault, which are overseeing the German and French operations respectively.

Officials at both companies declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

But Airbus chief Guillaume Faury was optimistic at a Berlin press conference Monday, saying “we’re approaching the end… we think the contract will be signed before the end of 2022”.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is set to meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Germany on November 25, a visit that could help improve defence cooperation as Europe rethinks its military strategy amid Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Germany worried many in Paris in March this year when it announced a deal to buy 35 F-35 jets from US firm Lockheed Martin, which are certified for carrying US nuclear warheads kept in Europe as part of the NATO defence alliance.

With regards to the FCAS jet, “we’re on the right path after long discussions, to the great satisfaction of both the German and French sides”, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Friday.