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Russia wonders why Europe needs two new fighter jets

This post was published in Gazeta.ru. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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MOSCOW, (BM) – Great Britain and continental Europe are implementing their own programs to create a 6th generation fighter, but how much two projects are needed at once is an open question. European experts argue how many countries should participate in the creation of these combat systems. “Gazeta.Ru” – about the prospects for creating new machines.

The question is whether the British Tempest fighter and the German-French-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS) can coexist in the long term without “cannibalizing the defense budget” of the entire continent, writes Defense News.

Moreover, while UK leaders have openly expressed their desire to select partner countries for the Tempest program, Paris and Berlin disagree on admitting additional members (besides Spain) to the co-executors’ cooperation for fear of slowing down their efforts to create a promising fighter.

Earlier this year, German Defense Ministry officials told Bundestag lawmakers that they consider it risky to keep the circle of participants too small, because the Tempest team can get ahead, easily choosing the necessary project participants, although this fear has not yet been confirmed.

Dirk Hocke, General Director of Airbus Defense and Space (a division of Airbus Corporation for the development and production of military aviation and military space technology), believes that the problem, in general, comes down to the budget, that is, to the price of the issue.

His company is a co-executor in the FCAS program with the French corporation Dassault Aviation. Notably, the French are taking the lead in the next-generation fighter jet, which is intended to be the centerpiece of a broader support program for unmanned aerial vehicles and air-to-air control equipment.

“Europe cannot afford two new systems at the same time,” Hocke said in a virtual panel discussion organized by the German Defense Industry Lobbyists’ Association.

This is particularly relevant, he argues, because competition between the UK and the European Union member states will heighten the perception that Brexit has weakened the inland defensive alliance. This is an opinion that leaders on both sides of the Channel are constantly trying to dispel.

Finding a way to merge FCAS and Tempest should be a top priority for decision makers once a Brexit agreement on future trade and defense relations is reached, Hocke said. Until then, he said, “we just need to be patient.”

To be ready for the “eye-level negotiating opportunity,” he explained, both projects must continue to develop their technologies so that possible common ground for potential collaboration is as vivid as possible.

In contrast, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier has called for caution when it comes to expanding FCAS membership too quickly.

Noting that Spain had already been admitted to the program after Germany and France started it, Trappier clarified that the co-operatives that have been formed are still learning to work together.

“If we change partners every six months, I can tell you that we will not achieve results by 2040,” he added, referring to the expected date for the introduction of futuristic weapons.

As Gazeta.Ru previously reported, the French company Dassault Aviation presented a full-size model of the European fifth generation NGF (Next generation fighter) fighter at the Le Bourget air show in June 2019.

The action plan assumes that an agreement on the architecture of a promising aircraft will be reached in 2020, a demonstration platform will be created in 2026, and, finally, having frozen the possibility of changes in all other tactical and technical requirements in 2030, the production of a combat vehicle will take place by 2040 year.

The new aircraft is to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale fighters in the German, French and Italian air forces.

According to the official statement of the parties, FCAS will become a multipurpose combat air “system of systems” of the XXI century using artificial intelligence and operating in the “combat cloud” (Combat Cloud) and network (“ecosystem”) of existing and future manned and unmanned systems, including various types of unmanned aircraft (Remote Carriers) and guided weapons.

The German Ministry of Defense has described FCAS as the largest and most technologically sophisticated European defense program. Now the French and German sides officially call the promising NGF aircraft “the sixth generation fighter”.

In turn, Great Britain, Sweden and Italy are participating in the Tempest (“Tempest”) fighter program.

The United Kingdom’s Department of Defense unveiled a concept model of the next-generation fighter during the 2018 Farnborough Air Show as part of the launch of a new national aviation strategy.

The Tempest project is at the center of this strategy, designed in large part to enable the British aerospace defense industry to maintain its technological edge in jet fighter development.

According to the calculations of the developers, the promising Tempest fighter should make its first flight around 2040, replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon in the Royal Air Force of Great Britain.

The promising capabilities of the sixth generation fighter include the integration of manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles carrying weapons and sensors, interconnected by a complex data network and cloud-based information infrastructure.

Why does the UK need Tempest

There is no real combat use of Tempest fighters for the defense of the British Isles, since, if the nuclear scenario is not considered, any armed clash with Russia, Western countries and China is excluded.

In addition, all the recent wars waged by Great Britain were coalitional (usually led by the United States).

It can be assumed that the sixth generation Tempest fighter will solve some problems in the overseas territories of the United Kingdom. However, in this case, the enemy of the British Air Force will be aircraft of a much technologically lower class, even the Eurofighter Typhoon, not to mention Tempest.

That is, the Royal Air Force will nowhere collide with an aircraft that would be superior in technological level. In other words, by and large, Eurofighter Typhoon fighters are enough to solve almost all of their tasks.

It turns out that this project, by and large, has no military significance.

And figuratively we can say that Great Britain is not “in the race” to create fighters of this type, unlike, for example, China and Russia.

It turns out that the 6th generation aircraft is being created to preserve its status, and the main tasks of the Tempest project are financial and economic plans.

London is trying to support its industry, BAE Systems’ status as the largest aviation and rocket and space firm not only in Great Britain, but also in the world, to load production capacities, to cheer up its cadres of developers, engineers and technicians, and highly qualified workers.

A combination of BAE Systems and SAAB plus Italy is capable of producing an aircraft that will turn out to be no worse than the fighter currently being created in a combination of France-Germany-Spain.

Moreover, if they all united in this composition (Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Italy), then they have enough resources to create a machine comparable to the American F-35 fighter.

However, the Americans have super-systems of weapons (space, navigation, communications, integration, obtaining information from various sources, etc.), in which the F-35 as an aircraft is just an element.

There is, perhaps, no unequivocal answer at present whether the Europeans will come up with such a super-system of weapons.

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