Dassault Aviation president Serge Dassault has confirmed that it is to form a joint company with British Aerospace to study future combat aircraft, and that it is also looking at ways of separating its military and civil businesses in preparation for the merger of the defence side with Aerospatiale.

The official announcement of the 50/50-owned combat aircraft company will be made at the Farnborough air show in September. The company will be UK based.

The move builds on an existing memorandum of understanding between the two companies. Initial work is focused on looking at how to merge the capabilities of each, and at potential research into manned and unmanned aircraft that will replace the Eurofighter EF2000 and the Dassault Rafale. The new company may also define the areas in which they will market their respective aircraft.

Sources believe it is "only a matter of time" before Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace and other European companies such as Alenia and CASA join as part of a wider European restructuring.

Aerospatiale will become the owner of the French combat aircraft component, leaving Dassault to concentrate on its civil aircraft and electronics businesses.

Source: Flight International