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European aircraft engine majors reach FCAS agreement

The FCAS project envisions test flights with the next-generation fighter to start by 2026

France’s Safran Aircraft Engines, Germany’s MTU Aero Engines and Spain’s ITP Aero have entered into an agreement on the cooperation to provide a jointly developed, produced and supported engine to power the Next-Generation Fighter (NGF), which is a core element of FCAS (Future Combat Air System).

Spain’s ITP is joining the program as a main partner of MTU’s and Safran Aircraft Engines’ new joint venture EUMET, allowing for an equal workshare between France, Germany and Spain.

EUMET will be the sole prime contractor with the nations for all engine activities related to the Next-Generation Fighter, in cooperation with ITP Aero.

FCAS is a European project 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.

“FCAS is a highly strategic program, enabling to maintain our fundamental competencies in military engines, while also strengthening national and European defense capabilities”, noted Jean-Paul Alary, Chief Executive Officer of Safran Aircraft Engines. “As leader of the NGF engine design and integration, Safran Aircraft Engines is looking forward to building solid foundations and solidifying the partnership with MTU and ITP Aero.”

“We have set a reliable and solid framework for pragmatic and focused decisions among the partners over the entire life-cycle of the engine”, commented Michael Schreyögg, Chief Program Officer of MTU and first Chairman of the Shareholders’ Meeting of EUMET. He continued. “Having reached this we will jointly focus on the major next steps ahead: Securing the contract for the demonstrator phase during the next few months and ramping up development activities in line with our highly ambitious timeline until 2040.”

“Today’s agreement marks a very relevant milestone for ITP Aero and the FCAS programme. We believe this programme will be instrumental for ITP Aero moving forward, showcasing the role and capabilities of the Spanish Defence industry within the future of Europe’s Defence. We look forward to working with our partners Safran and MTU Aero”, commented Carlos Alzola, CEO ITP Aero.

Within EUMET, Safran Aircraft Engines will lead the engine’s overall design and integration, while MTU Aero Engines will lead the engine service activities. ITP Aero will be fully integrated into the design of the engine and develop the low-pressure turbine and the nozzle amongst other items.

According to the timetable defined by the national authorities, the next Research & Technology phase (R&T 1B/2) should pass the national approval processes by the middle of this year in order to move the FCAS program to the next level. The initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launched the demonstrator phase of the project, was signed in February 2020.