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Spain joins France, Germany on new combat fighter

The Eurofighter and Rafale are to be replaced by 2040
The Eurofighter and Rafale are to be replaced by 2040 AFP
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Madrid (AFP)

Spain will join a Franco-German project to build a new fighter plane to replace the Eurofighter and Rafale, the defence ministry said Monday.

Defence Minister Margarita Robles will sign a letter of intent with her French and German counterparts on Thursday on the margins of a NATO meeting in Brussels, a spokesperson said.

The project launched in July 2017 is known as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which in addition to a new combat aircraft also plans to include drones and cruise missiles.

The new fighter jet will replace the Eurofighter which is assembled in Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy, and the French Rafale around 2040.

It will compete with the US F-35 or its successor.

A first contract worth 65 million euros was awarded to Airbus and Dassault Aviation in February to develop the design of the combat system.

Spain, where Airbus's military transport planes are assembled, had sent a letter in December to Paris and Berlin asking to be associated with the project.

The FCAS has a rival -- Britain's Tempest project which has been awarded to BAE Systems, and which Italy and the Netherlands have also joined.

In a December statement, Spain's defence ministry said it was "convinced that the two programmes would end up merging, given the huge investment needed in their development."

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