Through a winding journey European industrial cooperation developed the 4th generation Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet in the early 2000s (Heinrich, 2015). European countries, however, eventually missed an opportunity with the following generation, relying instead on the American-made F-35 Lightning II. Therefore, European states are now eager to make up for lost ground by developing a 6th generation fighter jet. Two parallel projects are underway. Firstly, France, Germany and Spain are jointly working on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a programme intended to develop a Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) with a Next Generation Fighter (NGF) at its core. Second, Japan recently joined the UK and Italy in developing the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), a follow-up of the Tempest project similarly intended to deliver a 6th generation fighter.
On February 17th, German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall signed a letter of intent (LOI) with American companies Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman regarding Germany's freshly procured F-35 fighter jets.