French aircraft manufacturing company Airbus’ chief executive officer (CEO) Tom Enders is reportedly eyeing merger of its fighter jet unit with that of BAE Systems.

The Sunday Times reported that Enders intends to develop a pan-European military aircraft company through the merger.

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Enders was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “It was time to seriously look at consolidating and coalescing efforts eventually to one. There is just no room for three different programmes, not even for two.”

The development follows after the UK Ministry of Defence unveiled plans to develop a sixth-generation stealth combat aircraft called Tempest.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has also announced $2.6bn of government funding for the concept aircraft through 2025, according to media reports.

Tempest will be built by a consortium led by BAE Systems, along with Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA.

“It was time to seriously look at consolidating and coalescing efforts eventually to one.”

In 2012, Enders tried to merge Airbus and BAE Systems to develop a defence and aerospace unit worth €38bn.

Enders added: “I’m a veteran of trying to merge with BAE. I’ve tried at least three times in the past 20 years – and failed.

“It does not, necessarily, need to take the form of a bilateral merger – it could, indeed, be a sectoral merger like an MBDA (the missile maker jointly owned by BAE, Airbus and Leonardo), where the various military aircraft businesses are split off and put into one company.”