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German, French defence ministers to discuss joint combat jet

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will next week discuss with her French counterpart Florence Parly the behind-schedule Franco-German combat jet project as well as tensions with Russia over Ukraine.

Other topics at the talks in Paris on Tuesday include both countries’ military missions in the Sahel and the situation in the Indo-Pacific region, a defence ministry spokesman in Berlin said on Thursday.

On Monday, Kramp-Karrenbauer will meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, he added.

The development of the next-generation combat jet, Europe’s largest defence project, has been plagued by squabbling between Airbus and Dassault as well as tensions between Germany and France.

Costing more than 100 billion euros ($119.75 billion), the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) brings together Germany, France and Spain.

Dassault Aviation, Airbus and Indra are involved in the scheme to start replacing France’s Rafale and German and Spanish Eurofighters from 2040.

The next step of the jet’s development is conditional on the German parliament’s approval, and time is running out to find a solution to present a proposal in time for the German parliament’s budget committee to vote upon it before a general election in September.

The defence ministry has to refer the budget proposal to the finance ministry by May 19, said a source with knowledge of the issue.

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