British Aerospace and Dassault Aviation and are expected to announce at the Farnborough air show, which opened on 7 September, the formation of a joint company to study a follow-on to the Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR 4 strike aircraft.

The deal will cement an existing memorandum of understanding between the two, which has already seen engineers exchanged between the two bases at Warton, UK, and St Cloud, France. The tie-up could be the precursor to a wider restructuring of the combat aircraft activities of the two businesses.

The company will be owned equally by the two shareholders and will be based in the UK. The prime focus of work will address the UK Ministry of Defence requirement for a Tornado successor, known as the Future Offensive Aircraft System (FOAS). This programme has yet to be defined, and could involve manned or unmanned aircraft solutions or both. The joint venture will also work on mid-life upgrades to the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter EF2000 - a revised version of which could meet the FOAS requirement.

Source: Flight International