Agreement on the further development of the future SCAF combat aircraft

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BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) – France, Germany and Spain have reached an agreement to launch the next phase of development of the future combat aircraft SCAF (Future Air Combat System), the largest project European defense system at an estimated cost of more than 100 billion euros, Berlin said on Friday.

The German Defense Ministry said in a statement that an industrial agreement was reached after intense negotiations, confirming information from Reuters.

“The political agreement on FCAS is a big step and – especially in the context – an important sign of the excellent Franco-German-Spanish cooperation,” said German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.

“It strengthens Europe’s military capabilities and guarantees important know-how not only for our (industry, editor’s note), but also for European industry.”

Sources had previously told Reuters that the next phase of FCAS development is expected to cost some 3.5 billion euros, which the three countries involved will share equally.

The Dassault, Airbus and Indra groups are involved in the project which aims to replace the French Rafales and the German and Spanish Eurofighters from 2040.

Launched in 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a time when the European Union was weakened by the decision of the British to leave the Community bloc and by the migrant crisis, the SCAF project has since been the source recurring tensions between France and Germany.

Last month, Emmanuel Macron canceled a Franco-German cabinet meeting over disagreements with Berlin over a number of issues, including defense and energy projects.

(Report Sabine Siebold in Berlin and Michel Rose in Paris, French version Myriam Rivet and Matthieu Protard, edited by Bertrand Boucey)

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