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Germany to take up European next-gen fighter funding next week
By: Sebastian Sprenger  
29 May 2019

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (in red) and French Defense Minister Florence Parly (in white) look at a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet at the ILA Berlin Air Show on April 26, 2018, in Schoenefeld, Germany. The aircraft is scheduled to be replaced by the Future Combat Air System sometime around 2040. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

MADRID – With Spain on track to join a German-French quest for a new European combat aircraft, lawmakers in Germany next week are expected to decide on Berlin’s initial funding contribution.

June 5 will be the last penultimate session of the Bundestag’s defense and budget committees before the parliamentary summer break begins in late June. It is also the last opportunity to secure approval for a €65 million study contract for the Future Combat Air System before the June 16-23 Paris Air Show. German and French officials envision some level of pomp and circumstance at the event to cement their ambitious sixth-generation fighter plans.

For now, the idea is to have a framework agreement signed by the two defense ministers, Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen, even if a final okay by German lawmakers was still outstanding. In that case, a contingency clause would be added to the text to reflect that the pact is preliminary until Germany’s legislature approves it.

Defense officials in Berlin said they expect parliamentary approval eventually, but acknowledged that the timing is tight.

Meanwhile, staffs are working behind the scenes to modify the slate of program governance documents to reflect Spain’s participation. It remains to be seen whether those tweaks, which include questions of intellectual property ownership, can be sorted out in time to warrant a senior-level Spanish government representative joining the festivities at Paris.

A German defense spokesman stressed that Spain's participation in FCAS program was assured, and that only legal matters had yet to the sorted out.
In that spirit, Germany's choice to lead a delegation to the inaugural FEINDEF defense expo here appears apt: Luftwaffe Brig. Gen. Gerald Funke, who also oversees FCAS planning for Germany, could be spotted at the opening event.

If the Bundestag approves, fully integration Spain into the program would amount to addressing the “devil in the details,” he told Defense News.
Airbus and Dassault are the main contractors for the ambitious air-warfare program. Including Spain likely would mean Airbus, which has a sizable footprint here, would reshuffle its share of work to include Spanish industry.