By John Ensor •
Published: 02 Nov 2023 • 16:41
Image of Eurofighter Typhoon.
In a potential turn of events, Germany is contemplating withdrawing from a joint £90 billion air combat project with France and might instead align with a British-led alternative.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany has reportedly been holding discussions about revoking their block on Eurofighter Typhoon jet deliveries to Saudi Arabia, writes GB News.
This recent development could significantly enhance Anglo-German relations, as the UK deems the Gulf nation to be of strategic importance. A collaboration with the UK would likely exacerbate the already strained relationship between Berlin and Paris, who hold differing views on various matters including air defence and diplomatic customs.
The fraught relationship between the two European powers could face further tension if Germany opts to partner with the UK on defence matters.
The French-led Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme, which also includes Spain, is considered by many analysts to be a key defence initiative in Europe. Its goal is to seamlessly integrate a new stealth fighter with various unmanned and existing military assets.
However, Chancellor Scholz, having invested €40 billion into the FCAS, is reportedly losing confidence in the project’s viability. The initiative has been plagued by setbacks and disagreements over its design and funding, prompting concerns that it may lag behind its rivals.
In contrast, the UK’s Tempest fighter jet programme, spearheaded by BAE Systems and Rolls Royce, is expected to be completed by 2035. This project is the cornerstone of a growing British-Italian-Japanese aerospace collaboration.
Amidst these defence negotiations, tensions between France and Germany have been further strained by France’s opposition to Germany’s ‘Sky Shield’ missile defence project. Additionally, sources indicate Chancellor Scholz was upset by Rishi Sunak‘s absence in Berlin to discuss partnership possibilities.
Complicating matters is the ongoing dispute over the sale of Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia, which Germany has opposed due to the nation’s human rights record. The UK, however, considers Saudi Arabia a key ally in Middle Eastern stability.
If Germany opts to side with the UK, it would mirror Australia’s 2021 decision to forgo a substantial submarine agreement with France in favour of a partnership with the US, a move that Paris likened to a ‘stab in the back.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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