Boeing unveil their first unmanned aircraft prototype
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The German Chancellor’s defence team will purchase five Boeing (BA.N) P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, it has been announced. Following approval from the parliamentary budget committee, the contract will now be signed, the ministry as Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said as she visited her counterpart in the United States.
The “interim” deal with the US, however, has sparked outrage in France as it could have damaging repercussions for Franco-German Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) programme.
Sharing the news on Twitter, Les Patriotes leader Florian Philippot blasted Germany’s “humiliating” decision.
Posting an article by French daily La Tribune titled “Maritime patrol planes: how Germany rolled France in the flour”, Mr Philippot tweeted: “Maritime patrol planes: Germany makes France believe that it wants cooperation but in fact buys American equipment!
“Florence Parly, the Minister of the Armed Forces, says it has fallen from the clouds!
“We are stripped and humiliated!
The La Tribune article read: “After the Franco-German tactical missile MAST-F intended to arm the German and French Tiger helicopters, Berlin has apparently definitely torpedoed a second programme in cooperation between France and Germany, however validated in July 2017 by the Chancellor. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.”
Announcing the deal, Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “This procurement, with a volume of around 1.1 billion euros (£950 million), serves the urgent need to maintain a capability for long-range maritime reconnaissance and airborne submarine hunting.”
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She added she was optimistic Boeing would be able to deliver the aircraft quickly despite its challenges on other defence programs, especially since there was no new development involved with the P-8A aircraft.
She said: “It’s something that we’re buying off the shelf.
“We’re actually optimistic that we can complete the procurement relatively quickly.”
The planes will provide an interim replacement for Germany’s ageing fleet of Lockheed P-3C Orion aircraft.
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Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said Germany remained wedded to developing a longer-term replacement together with France under the Maritime Airborne Warfare System program, or MAWS.
This is not the first time Germany has infuriated France on a military and defence decision.
In May, France, Germany and Spain said they had reached a deal over the next steps of the development of a new fighter jet, Europe’s largest defence project at an estimated cost of more than 100 billion euros (£86 billion).
France in particular has billed the combat jet project – which includes a next-generation manned and unmanned aircraft – as crucial for Europe to strengthen its defence autonomy and face competition from China, Russia and the United States.
France and Germany had originally set the end of April for a deal, but a dispute over how to share intellectual property rights held up negotiations.
French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly tweeted: “France, Germany and Spain are building one of the most important tools for their sovereignty and that of Europe in the 21st century.”
Critics of the plan, however, lamented a betrayal by French President Macron in favour of Mrs Merkel’s demands.
The next development phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is expected to cost 3.5 billion euros (£3 billion), to be shared equally by the three countries.
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