It has been reported that Airbus Defence & Space is examining opportunity for European industry to develop a next-generation combat aircraft.
A draft document from the Defence Ministry on ‘military aviation strategy’ said it was still unclear whether the new jet would be manned or unmanned. It said it was also possible that the jet would be designed for both options and then be flown with or without a pilot depending on the type of deployment.
As it would be a European project, it is likely that one or more European companies would be chosen to develop the jet. The Tornado jet, which Germany has been using since 1981 – although it now also has the newer Eurofighter jet – was also made in an international consortium called Panavia.
Alberto Gutierrez, Airbus Group’s head of Eurofighter and combat aircraft programmes said:
“Some months ago, the German MoD prepared a strategic defence capability roadmap, and they are looking for something to replace capabilities to fill the gap that will come with the replacement of the Tornado. They have asked us to investigate what potentially could be the solution.
We are currently working with the German air force on customer needs. We are thinking about something that will enter into service by 2030.
What we cannot afford to do is a completely start-from-scratch aircraft. We are talking about the re-use of certain Eurofighter components and looking at what we are doing in our development cycles, for more prototyping. We are looking at a varying portfolio of new technologies.”
Germany’s armed forces are looking into whether it would be possible to extend usage of the Tornado jets into the mid-2030’s.