PARIS — France has linked its search for independence from U.S. export rules with the Franco-German project for a future fighter jet, in a bid to boost foreign sales of the aircraft, the French armed forces minister said.
France’s effort to become less dependent on U.S. components and promote exports were written into the same letter of intent signed in June with Germany for the FCAS project, Florence Parly told AJPAE, the aeronautics and space journalists association, on Sept. 6.
“The exportability of the (Future Combat Air System) is a key element to ensure the economic viability of the program,” she said. “We have to think as upstream as possible to secure this exportability.”
The minister previously told parliamentarians the French government aims to cut its reliance on U.S. components in the wake of an American refusal to authorize the sale of parts for a French Scalp cruise missile requested by Egypt. French attempts to persuade Washington to lift restrictions under U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations have failed.
Parly declined to give examples, but she said the problems Paris has encountered in the pursuit of foreign arms sales “stemmed in appearance from strategic factors and in reality from commercial competition."
“We are not dupes,” she said.
France needs to gradually cut its reliance on certain American components, although it is impossible to be completely independent, she admitted, adding that there is a plan to reduce that dependence.
“Experience has led us to undertake this action,” she said.
Companies should take the responsibility for greater independence, as they faced the consequences of failed export efforts, she said.
“They are in the front line,” she said, noting that the government is in dialog with industry and that some companies already understand the situation and are fully committed.