“An agreement has been reached between our industrial companies,” said French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne at a joint news conference Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
"It’s not done yet,” said a spokesperson for Dassault Aviation.
The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is a “system of systems” envisioned as swarming drones and a sixth-generation fighter to replace France’s Rafales, Germany’s Typhoons, and Spain’s EF-18 Hornets. A test flight of a demonstrator is expected around 2027 and entry into service by 2040.
French President Emmanuel Macron and then German Chancellor Angela Merkel first announced plans for FCAS in July 2017.
Estimated cost of the programme is more than 100 billion euros.
Speculation spiked last week when unnamed sources in France and Germany suggested a rapprochement had resolved festering tensions. A French official confirmed that “the industries”, seen as the main stumbling blocks, had found a deal to move to the next phase of the warplane project. The German government said that talks over the next phase were progressing.
Scholz's spokesman had said a week ago, "We are very confident that we will be able to answer your question on Friday."
Dassault Aviation is project lead, joined by Thales and Airbus.
It is the second time recently that mixed political and industrial signals have emerged over the talks on the next phase of the project. Both sides have been struggling for more than a year to agree the next stage.
Two common stumbling blocks of multi-company programmes are blamed: work share and intellectual property.
At the press conference Friday, Scholz was more cautious, saying political leaders had been able to “speed up” talks on the project.
The next development phase for FCAS is expected to cost 3.5 billion euros, to be shared equally by France, Germany and Spain.