Germany and France will launch a program this month to develop a new marine patrol and surveillance aircraft, the German navy said yesyerday, in what defence sources said was a response to a sharp increase in Russian submarine patrols.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, plan to sign a letter of intent about the new “Maritime Airborne Warfare System” at the Berlin air show on April 27, it said on its website.
The two countries agreed last July to seek a “European solution” to replace existing marine surveillance planes, and develop a road map to that end by mid-2018. The letter of intent formalizes those plans and paves the way for both countries to harmonize their military requirements for the maritime mission.
The initiative is part of a larger drive by France and Germany to increase their cooperation on defence programs, including efforts to develop a new European fighter jet.
Germany now uses the P-3C Orion built by Lockheed Martin Corp to patrol large swathes of ocean for submarines and other potential threats, while France operates the Atlantique 2, or ATL2, produced by Dassault Aviation in the 1980s.
German navy officials were not immediately available for further comment on the program, or how it will tie into an effort by eight NATO allies, including France and Germany, to cooperate on “multinational maritime multi-mission aircraft capabilities.” The program also includes Canada, Poland, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece.
NATO members are modernizing and upgrading military equipment in the wake of increasingly aggressive military actions by Russia, including a high level of submarine patrols not seen since the end of the Cold War.
– Compiled by Juliana Agbo
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