During a visit to Germany, the French Minister of the Armed Forces declared that the 6th generation fighter aircraft developed jointly by Germany, France and Spain as part of the SCAF program remains a priority. These announcements reveal discreet progress far from the cameras.
The SCAF program's 6th generation NGF fighter: keystone of Franco-German negotiations
The SCAF NGF program seemed to stagnate for more than a year, with negotiations between Paris and Berlin stalling over the sharing of industrial responsibilities for several know-how deemed sovereign by both sides. The French side also felt it had already given up a lot of ground by agreeing to a workload-sharing arrangement, in which half of the activities would be carried out as a joint venture, with the other half divided equally between the three partner countries: Germany, France and Spain. Although industrial development has begun thanks to the first tranches of financing already agreed, the political stalemate has begun to worry analysts, to the point that the program is being called into question. For example, the 3.6 billion euros resulting from the signature of the partnership for phase 1-B of the project could not be allocated to the various industrialists due to a lack of agreement. But the SCAF should see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The war in Ukraine reshuffles the cards
Because the situation has drastically changed, a geopolitical consequence of the war in Ukraine and the German catching up in terms of defense budget. The need for a credible armed force to ensure peace on the continent until the end of the century is now proven even within the most recalcitrant German political groups. Moreover, the governments have changed on both sides of the Rhine and the new administrations have been able to continue discussions on new bases, with a stated desire to succeed on a file emblematic of Franco-German cooperation that has been abused on several other military programs.
The visit of French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu to Berlin was therefore an opportunity to send a clear message: the aircraft must go to its conclusion, regardless of the difficulties encountered in the past. "A lot of things have been said or written in recent weeks, I believe that with one sentence, we will cut it short by saying that the SCAF is a priority project." Do these statements indicate that an agreement could soon be reached? While the initial timetable, which should lead to the first flight of a demonstrator as early as 2027, may be questioned, the operational deployment of an aircraft by 2040 remains a necessary common goal to meet the requirements of tomorrow's wars..
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