MUNICH --- When Airbus presents its 2018 balance sheet on Thursday, the sales figures of passenger planes will be in the foreground. For years, military jets have been regarded as back store goods, for which Europe has little money.
But that could change soon. Airbus expects new billion-euro orders from Germany. Specifically, the Bundeswehr plans to replace 33 older (Tranche 1) Eurofighters with more modern models of the Airbus fighter. In addition, the Air Force is also looking for a successor to 85 Tornado jets that could carry American nuclear weapons in an emergency.
"It would be a sovereign signal to transfer this role to Eurofighter,” Airbus Defence and Space Chief Executive Dirk Hoke told Handelsblatt. At the moment, however, the Ministry of Defense is also examining a parallel purchase of the Boeing F-18. Overall, it adds up to a contract volume of over ten billion euros. Hoke calls on Europe's governments to make an industrial policy decision in favor of European technology.
In any case, Airbus plans to invest massively in the next generation of military technology. Just last week, the Group agreed with Dassault the development of a new fighter jet (FCAS), which should be operational from 2040. So far, Eurofighter (Airbus) and the Rafale (Dassault) are competing on the world market.
The new aircraft is envisioned flying with swarms of drones, supported by Artificial Intelligence. Hoke also hopes for BAE Systems. The British have much expertise in the development of fighter jets, but are still waiting for the outcome of the Brexit. "Developing a system like the FCAS without the British being extremely dangerous," Hoke says.
Click here for the full interview (in German) on the Handelsblatt website.