Modern military aircraft are incredibly complicated pieces of equipment. It can take years to design them, but nations do need to stay up to date if they want a competitive military. European nations have been expressing interest on producing a new generation of stealth fighters, and the project is getting quite a bit of interest from all over the continent.
Air superiority is a core element of modern warfare. A nation that controls the air has the freedom to bombard ground targets with relative impunity and plenty of opportunities to spy on the enemy, so it is vital for nations to keep foes out of their airspace. Newer aircraft have significant advantages over older ones, so modern fighters are a core part of a defensive arsenal.
European fighter projects also include provisions for drones to accompany them, which have the advantage of operating without risk to the pilot. That can help nations deal with staffing issues, which provides another strong reason to stay up to date on military technology.
The Advantages of Cooperation
Developing a stealth fighter requires a massive investment. The United States and China have both developed stealth aircraft, but they are the only ones to have that sort of technology at their disposal. While Europe as a whole can match their resources, the individual nations of Europe are all much smaller than China and America. It is unlikely that they would be able to muster the resources to develop that sort of fighter before it became obsolete if they were working alone. The nations that pool their resources benefit from stronger research teams and the knowledge that their allies will also be prepared if they need to go to war as a group.
Who is Joining?
France and Germany have been working together to develop their own stealth fighters. Spain has also expressed interest in joining the team, rather than taking part in Britain’s program to produce a similar plane. Britain’s efforts are separate due to the Brexit, but there is still a chance that their engineers will end up collaborating with the continental team. The sheer difficulty of creating a new stealth fighter certainly provides a strong incentive to cooperate, and the widespread interest in teamwork proves that European air forces recognize the value of collaboration.