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European Future Combat Air System project enters demonstration phase

Dassault Aviation and Airbus revealed a real size model of the Next Generation Fighter (NGF) at Paris Air Show on June 17, 2019. Photo: Airbus

The governments of France and Germany have awarded Dassault Aviation and Airbus a contract for the next phase of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Awarded to the two companies and their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A) launches the demonstrator phase of the project.

This framework contract covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.

FCAS is expected to develop both a sixth-generation fighter jet and remote carrier UAS that would have the capability to operate as swarm drones. The Next Generation Fighter (NGF) is expected to replace France’s Rafales, Germany’s Eurofighters and Spanish F-18 Hornets from the 2040s.

The demonstration phase will, in a first step, focus on the main technological challenges of the NGF, with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System. The unmanned systems remote carrier (swarm drone systems) will be developed by Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner. A simulation environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators.

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 conclusion.

Remote carrier unmanned systems will be developed jointly by Airbus and MBDA