Germany’s Aerospace Industry Warns of Impending Combat Aircraft Manufacturing Crisis

The German aerospace industry association, BDLI, has raised concerns about the potential loss of jobs and skills in combat aircraft manufacturing if a 10-year production gap occurs.

Germany’s aerospace industry is facing a significant challenge as the country risks losing crucial combat aircraft manufacturing jobs and skills. The German aerospace industry association, BDLI, has issued a warning that a 10-year production gap could have severe consequences for the industry. With the production of the Eurofighter set to end in 2030, Germany is facing a period without any new orders until the full-rate production of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) commences in the 2040s. This gap in orders poses a threat to jobs, tax revenue, and cutting-edge technologies and skills in the country.

The Consequences of a Production Gap

The BDLI analysis, conducted by consultancy PWC, reveals that the production of Eurofighters supports 25,000 jobs across 120 different suppliers in Germany. Additionally, it generates significant tax revenue for the government. The potential loss of these jobs and tax revenue could have a detrimental impact on the economy, as well as the aerospace industry’s ability to maintain cutting-edge technologies and skills. Without an order for Tranche 5 Eurofighters for the Luftwaffe, there is a risk that military fighter aircraft construction in Germany could come to an end.

The Call for an Industrial Bridge

BDLI President Michael Schoellhorn, who is also the CEO of Eurofighter partner company Airbus Defence & Space, emphasizes the need to build an industrial bridge to the future. He argues that the approval for the further development of the Eurofighter during the current legislative period is crucial to maintain Germany’s manufacturing capabilities. This move would ensure that the Eurofighter program remains technologically advanced and lays the foundation for the next generation of air combat platforms. The federal government’s decision on additional Eurofighter procurement based on this new technology is seen as vital for the industry’s future.

The Role of FCAS and Competing Aircraft

The Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a next-generation fighter program, involves Germany, France, and Spain as partners. Dassault Aviation leads the airframe development for the New Generation Fighter under FCAS, while Airbus Defence & Space heads the development of the uncrewed “remote carrier” aircraft. The FCAS program is expected to commence full-rate production in the 2040s. Meanwhile, Dassault continues to secure customers for its competing Rafale aircraft, with 123 export orders as of June 30th. The investment in research and development for the Rafale’s future F5 standard is seen as a bridge to FCAS.

Germany’s aerospace industry is at a critical juncture, facing the potential loss of combat aircraft manufacturing jobs and skills due to a 10-year production gap. The BDLI’s warning highlights the urgent need for the German government to approve the further development of the Eurofighter to bridge this gap and maintain the country’s manufacturing capabilities. The consequences of inaction could result in the end of military fighter aircraft construction in Germany, leading to job losses, reduced tax revenue, and a decline in cutting-edge technologies and skills. As the FCAS program progresses, Germany must navigate this challenging period to ensure the future success of its aerospace industry.