Airbus, Dassault Aviation Agree On Industrial Partnership For FCAS Programme

Visitors attend the unveiling ceremony of the full-scale jet fighter model of the French-German-Spanish new-generation Future Combat Air System at the 2019 Paris Air Show. (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Airbus and Dassault have agreed on industrial terms for the New Generation Fighter (NGF) element of the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF).

The New Generation Fighter of the Next-Generation Weapon System, which is itself part of the wider FCAS/SCAF. The industrial leads of Airbus, Dassault have now agreed on terms ahead of the launch of Phase 1B of the programme.

The French Senate announced on 6 April that the agreement reached on the NGF project is “a major turning point” in the programme after months of wrangling between the two industry partners, and now clears the way for the launch of Phase 1B of the programme.

The accord, first reported April 2 by La Tribune, comes after months of simmering doubt that the FCAS lead executives would be able to resolve important issues for the program’s progress — namely, intellectual property rightsand workshare agreements between French, German, and Spanish industries.Dassault Aviation leads the French industry portion of FCAS — also called SCAF — while Airbus represents Germany’s industry and Indra leads Spain’s participation.

The timing is important: Stakeholders hoped to get the next-generation fighter’s contract finalized before the German parliament leaves for its summer recess in late June, in order to keep on schedule for the program’s next phase.

Company executives have previously said that they will begin investing “billions of euros” into the program in this next phase, dubbed 1B, after the results of the ongoing Joint Concept Study are released. Major design elements are expected to be revealed after these negotiations are complete, such as whether the fighter jet will have one seat or two, Airbus officials told reporters in late 2020.

“The agreement removes the main obstacle to the launch of a demonstrator of the programme, which should fly in 2026 or 2027. This is a major turning point,” said the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

As noted by the Senate, the agreement will first need to be validated in the coming weeks by the German Bundestag before the demonstrator phase can formally commence. From my recent exchanges with several of my colleagues from the Bundestag, I am rather optimistic, which was not the case even a few weeks ago. I call on them to support this historic project, which gives very concrete content to the European strategic autonomy,” Christian Cambon, chairman of the committee, said.

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