BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany and France said they will sign an initial contract with Airbus and France's Dassault Aviation < for initial work on a next-generation fighter jet in early 2019, and expect next steps on a joint tank programme by the end of 2018.
The two countries cited what they called "significant progress" on a programme to develop a new fighter to go into service in 2040, following a meeting by their defence ministers in Brussels on Monday.
The ministers agreed that the two companies would co-lead a study on "a common concept and architectures (including connectivity)" for the new Future Combat Air System (FCAS), following a contract signing in early 2019.
Additional studies and contracts for work on prototypes of the aircraft and an engine would be launched at the Paris Air Show in June, the statement said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, editing by Riham Alkousaa)