The governments of France and Germany award the initial framework contract for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and Airbus further strengthens its partnership with Thales and MBDA.
On February 12, the governments of France and Germany awarded Dassault Aviation, Airbus, MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales the initial framework contract which launches the demonstrator phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). This notification expected at the last Paris Air Show in June 2019 was delayed until October 16 to allow the governments to agree about the export of the systems, including the FCAS. A real issue for the manufacturers involved in these programs since it allows them to find commercial outlets and to sustain their activities. In addition, the industrial partners were able to agree on the division of tasks and negotiate joint development.
Division of tasks for the Next-Generation European Fighter aircraft (NGF).
The framework contract covers to a first period of 18 months (Phase 1A) and therefore launches work which will lead to the development of an NGF demonstrator, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System, with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner. Moreover, Airbus and MBDA will work on unmanned systems Remote Carrier as prime contractor and main partner respectively. The European missile manufacturer will focus on small and medium-sized missiles while Airbus teams will work on large and medium-sized drones, as well as on connectivity and the collaborative combat aspect, thanks to its experience in the field of man-unmanned teaming. The remote carriers will aim at saturating enemy defenses, carry out jamming missions, designate targets or even drop missiles. As for Thales, who signed an agreement with Airbus on February 20, it will work on the development of the Air Combat Cloud, for which Airbus is once again prime contractor and Thales is main partner. The two partners will thus jointly develop an informational and operational networking of every element of the FCAS in order to provide enriched information to operational staff and support them in their decision-making. For their part, Safran and MTU Aero Engines settled their partnership to develop the NGF’s engine on December 3, 2019.
Ultimately, “a Simulation Environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators”.