PARIS, June 17 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday marked the debut of this year's Paris Air Show with the launch a Franco-German-Spanish project to build the next generation of fighter jet he hopes will strengthen defense and security cooperation in Europe.
At the official inauguration of the 53rd International Paris Air Show, Macron, accompanied by Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, unveiled a model of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which is set to replace the French Rafale and German Eurofighter.
In front of a model of the new generation fighter jet, the defense ministers of France, Germany and Spain signed a trilateral accord on the joint development of the new warplane.
"In 2040, the French armed forces will be equipped with a combat aircraft, built between Europeans, to face the fights of tomorrow," Parly said.
"This is historical and that's just the beginning," she added.
Announced in July 2017, the SCAF will include a fighter jet and a range of associated weapons, such as drones. The first flight of a prototype is scheduled for 2026.
Kicked off on Monday at Le Bourget Parc des Expositions, the 53rd International Paris Air Show brings together the world's largest aeronautic groups to showcase the cutting-edge technology of today and the future of the air and space industry.
Divided into two parts, the air show will be open to trade visitors only between June 17 and June 20. The general public will be welcome between June 21 and June 23.
As usual, the International Paris Air Show is a main battleground for the world's leading civil aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. Major aircraft sales contracts are expected to be announced by them during the show.
Founded in 1909, the International Paris Air and Space Show is the biggest event of its kind dedicated to the aerospace industry worldwide. It is currently held every odd numbered year.