News: France’s Dassault eyes Plan B if European fighter talks fail.
PARIS (Reuters) – The managing director of French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation has the prospect of a alternative Plan on Friday if talks between France, Germany and Spain over a joint fighter plane collapse, but said he still believes in the project.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron first launched the company in 2017, but it is embroiled in suspicion and differing visions between Berlin and Paris, as well as in disputes between companies over workshare, people who attended the talks said to be close. Spain’s decision to join the project last year further slowed discussions.
“I don’t think it’s life-threatening, but I’m not going to tell you the patient has no trouble,” said Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, of the project, which officially launched in 2019.
“The head of a company must always have a plan B in mind. He goes out of his way to make sure Plan A is successful, everything. But the day that Plan A doesn’t work, you need a Plan B, ”he said at a press conference when asked what would happen if the talks failed.
Trappier said Dassault has accepted that the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus would have a larger total stake in an equal three-way split agreed by the partners, as it represents the military aircraft industry in both Germany and Spain.
However, this does not mean that all parts of the work can be divided equally without clear guidance, he added.
A major stumbling block concerns the control of technologies such as flight controls, for which France is gaining the upper hand, as Dassault builds fighter jets and business jets itself and Airbus has its civil engineering offices in Toulouse.
“If nobody does flight controls, this is not possible, it does not work: you have to have someone in charge,” said Trappier.
He downplayed a separate dispute over access to know-how, saying Dassault and Airbus have a common industrial understanding of how intellectual property is protected. This discussion is mainly at a political level, he added.
Trappier said a merger between FCAS and BAE Systems-led Tempest project with the UK, Sweden and Italy is “not on the agenda”.
Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle
Original Source © Reuters