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France and Germany sign off on requirements of new fighter jet

A Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin.
A Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin. Copyright REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Copyright REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
By Emma Beswick
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The warplane, which kicks off a joint fighter jet programme between the two counties, will be able to command a squadron of weapons, including drones.

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France and Germany have agreed on the central requirements of a new fighter jet to replace Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale warplanes in 2040, according to German military sources.

The warplane kicks off a joint fighter jet programme between the two counties, launched in July last year, with leaders signing summary documents on the sidelines of the ILA Berlin Air Show.

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel opened the show on Wednesday.

The aircraft will be capable of acting on its own or commanding a squadron of other weapons, including drones.

It will need to have the ability to carry out offensive or defensive missions, the sources said on Tuesday.

One feature that had not yet been decided was if the plane would have an unmanned option.

The goal is to start operating the new warplanes, with limited capabilities, in 2040.

An industrial declaration is expected to set out in more detail how partners will approach the multi-billion-euro project.

Rivals Airbus and Dassault announced at the Berlin show that they had "joined forces for the development and production of the European Future Air Combat System".

"This is an agreement in principle. The first message is to say: 'Yes, we are ready'," said the CEO of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier, at a joint press conference on Wednesday with the Airbus Defense and Space boss, Dirk Hoke, in the German capital.

"This is a historic moment for the aviation industry," added Dirk Hoke. "This is a big step forward in developing skills in Europe and ensuring European sovereignty."

The programme could be a step towards rectifying differences that saw Europe housing three competing fighter programs, including France’s Rafale, the Eurofighter — representing Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain — and Sweden’s Gripen.

Merkel and Emmanuel Macron first unveiled plans for the new program shortly after the French President’s election in May.

Most defence experts believe the UK will eventually be invited to join the programme.

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