Germany plans to leave the FCAS project with France for the British GCAP/Tempest, upsetting the European strategic balance.
Germany could abandon France on the SCAF program
According to the British newspaper “The Times”, Germany is considering abandoning its future combat aircraft project (FCAS) with France and instead joining the GCAP/Tempest program with Great Britain. Alongside this potential deal, Germany is also reportedly in talks to lift its veto on the delivery of Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia, which the UK considers an important strategic priority.
If this information, from a British source, is plausible: unblocking of the sale of Eurofighters in Saudi Arabia in exchange for entry into the GCAP/Tempest, it cannot be excluded that it is also amplified and/or distorted by these the same British who have an interest in throwing fuel on the fire on Franco-German relations which are, to say the least, chaotic. Another question concerns the attitude of Italy and Japan, partners of Great Britain in the GCAP/Tempest, like that of Spain, Germany’s partner in the FCAS, in the event of such a reversal.
However, an agreement along these lines would undeniably be a coup for London and would reflect the widening gap between France and Germany, who are at odds over a range of issues from energy to defence.
In detail in the Times article, sources close to Mr. Scholz say that the latter would be worried that the project risks turning into a “white elephant” and being left behind by competing American NGAD projects. A senior German official reportedly declared that Mr. Scholz did not see the point in seeing FCAS compete with GCAP/Tempest and that he wanted either to merge the two, or, failing that, to abandon FCAS and join GCAP/Tempest . He is also said to be “exasperated” by the “preferential” treatment France gave to its own aerospace companies in the initial phases of the FCAS project. This unease is exacerbated by a more general deterioration in relations between France and Germany on a number of different political fronts.
Arms Sales and Power Games: Germany in search of a strategic agreement with Saudi Arabia.
The decision on the next generation fighter jet is also closely linked to the German-British row over the delivery of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia, as Berlin blocked their export on the grounds that the coalition-led by Saudi Arabia has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in Yemen’s civil war. In return, Saudi Arabia put pressure on the United Kingdom and Germany by inviting France to present a competing offer based on Dassault’s Rafale. Sources within Mr Scholz’s three-party coalition say they are increasingly confident that the sale of the Eurofighter will be unblocked in the near future.
Keywords: Germany, FCAS project, abandonment, GCAP/Tempest program, Great Britain, France, combat aircraft, talks, lifting of veto, Eurofighter delivery, Saudi Arabia, Franco-German relations