The French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly announced today that the three participating nations in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program will aim to have a demonstrator fly in 2027 and the aircraft to be fully operational by 2040.
After tumultuous negotiations marked by several clashes between the two leading nations and their contractors, France’s Dassault Aviation and the Germany’s Airbus over intellectual property rights and each nation’s industry workshare on this program worth hundreds of billions of euros, the agreement reached today will allow the project to move forward into a more concrete phase.
The FCAS or SCAF in French is envisioned as more than just a new aircraft with advanced sensors and weapons but an “system of systems” which includes a shared combat cloud network with multiple drones and remote carriers participating together in the whole spectrum of missions from reconnaissance to nuclear strike.
Plenty of study work has already been done by the French and the German since 2017 to determine the general design aspects of the main vector, the Next-Generation-Fighter (NGF), like its dimensions, twin-engine configuration and distinctive V-tail, and the manufacturers are confident they can have a demonstrator fly in 2027.
The development phase will now continue with the Spanish and potentially other European partners to define the propulsion, radar and optronic sensors, electronic warfare suite of the NGF as well as the air combat cloud and the remote carriers that are all scheduled to enter service in 2040.
Photo credits: Tiraden