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Franco-German superfighter to be combat-ready in middle of 21st century

France and Germany solidified a future partnership in defense strategy focused on jointly building a fighter aircraft to replace Germany's Eurofighters and France's Rafale aircraft.

On June 19, the two European nations signed an agreement to produce a superfighter that will be available to enter service in the middle of the 21st century, Popular Mechanics reports. France will spearhead efforts to design and build the aircraft, which has yet to be named, while Germany will take an advanced role in financing the project, according to the report.

Under a separate agreement that dates back to 2015, Germany's Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and French company Nexter Systems will develop and manufacture new-generation Leopard 3 main battle tanks, seeing as the current Leopard 2 tanks in the German Bundeswher have a 50-year service life set to expire in 2030.

France has a more developed aerospace sector than Germany, while KMW's Leopard-series tanks have been advertised as the world's most powerful tank, resulting in a situation where each country's comparative advantage in producing certain types of military equipment arguably leaves both better off.

It's worth noting, though, that an alarming amount of Germany's current military equipment is frequently reported to be inoperable: a German defense ministry study found in February that just nine of Germany's Leopard 2 tanks are combat-ready for NATO's fast-response unit.

The French Defense Ministry said on June 19 it would be taking the lead on the "development" of the new aircraft, Reuters reported. The situation places the company Dassault in an advantageous position to "take charge" of project management duties for the plane, the news outlet said.

"Developing a future multi-role combat aircraft for France and Germany integrated in a weapons system network is a major issue for Europe's strategic autonomy," Dassault chief executive officer Eric Trappier said Tuesday.

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