The governments of France and Germany have awarded Dassault Aviation, Airbus, together with their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launches the demonstrator phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
This framework contract covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.
Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the program’s so called Joint Concept Study. Now, the FCAS program enters into another decisive phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase.
This phase will, in a first step, focus on the main technological challenges per domains:
- Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System,
- Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner,
- Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as main partner,
- Engine with Safran and MTU as main partner.
A Simulation Environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators.
The launch of the Demonstrator Phase underlines the political confidence and determination of the FCAS partner nations and the associated industry to move forward and cooperate in a fair and balanced manner. The increased momentum enables industry to deploy the necessary resources and best capabilities to develop this decisive European defense project. FCAS will be the cornerstone project guaranteeing Europe’s future operational, industrial and technological sovereignty.
The next important step in the FCAS program will be the onboarding of Spain and the involvement of additional suppliers from Phase 1B onwards, which will succeed Phase 1A after its successful conclusion.
Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2018 it generated revenues of € 64 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.
MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). With more than 90 armed forces customers in the world, MBDA offers a range of 45 missile systems and countermeasures products already in operational service and more than 15 others currently in development. MBDA is jointly owned by Airbus (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%) and Leonardo (25%).
MTU Aero Engines AG is Germany’s leading engine manufacturer. The company is a leader in low-pressure turbines, high-pressure compressors, turbine center frames as well as manufacturing processes and repair techniques. In the commercial OEM business, the company plays a key role in the development, manufacturing and marketing of high-tech components together with international partners.
Thales is a global technology leader shaping the world of tomorrow today. The Group provides solutions, services and products to customers in the aeronautics, space, transport, digital identity and security, and defense markets. Thales is investing in particular in digital innovations - connectivity, Big Data, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity - technologies that support businesses, organizations and governments in their decisive moments.
Safran is an international high-technology group, operating in the aircraft propulsion and equipment, space and defense markets. Safran undertakes Research & Development programs to meet fast-changing market requirements, with total R&D expenditures of around 1.5 billion Euros in 2018.