The head of Airbus’s defense operation has urged European combat air companies to unite behind a single program, or face the prospect of the area falling in to the second division of world fighter producers.
“I strongly accept is as true has to be the full European solution to get a new combat air program. Two or more different solutions isn’t sustainable, it’s going to bring Europe in to the second league,” Dirk Hoke, the CEO of Airbus Defense and Space, told reporters in a pre-Farnborough air show briefing in London July 6.
Hoke said Europe capabilities wouldn’t survive an international competition when the market was further fragmented, a stark warning at time the UK and a Franco-German project appear set to pursue dueling designs.
Europe currently has three 4th generation fighter programs that continue to sell well in international markets; Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, Eurofighter’s Typhoon along with the Saab Gripen.
The French and Germans want to eventually notice that number whittled as a result of one 6th generation project, together in the lead. Berlin and Paris have got the initial steps towards fielding a sixth-generation fighter by around 2040. The two are making it clear that other nations can join up, but only a later date.
One executive, who asked never to be named, declared early work split on that program has Dassault as add the platform, and Airbus the integrator.
Efforts to produce a Franco/German fighter program follow moves to strengthen defense co-operation involving the two nations driven by French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Hoke said the cooperation agreement provides “a time frame not seen before to bolster Euro cooperation and especially while using Franco/German axis.”
Hoke declared that cooperation discussions using the British, and in particular BAE Systems, could get underway as soon as the terms for Britain’s exit in the European Union ended up agreed. But he emphasized the British could only join with a later stage.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders struck the same note at the briefing regarding a prospective position for that British on the future combat air program saying “the door is still open.”
The BAE View
The challenge for countries away from initial French/German synergy is working out exactly when and exactly how other leading regional air combat systems suppliers, including Sweden’s Saab, Italy’s Leonardo or perhaps the UK’s BAE and Rolls-Royce, might be permitted to get onboard.
And Chris Boardman, the group managing director BAE Systems Air, acknowledged that who works with who in different future fighter program is a political decision, not an industrial one.
“We know everybody industrially and may measure them, and they can measure us. It really is right down to the location where the nations need to collaborate,” he was quoted saying after a briefing with reporters at BAE’s Walton fighter facility, in which the company was showcasing its combat air and systems of systems capabilities in front of Farnborough.