The FCAS (Future Combat Air System) program, which will give rise to a combat system including a 6th generation European fighter, was the subject of an interview by Eric Trappier, CEO of the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation. According to the executive, the company reached an industrial agreement on the project with Airbus, which is the other party involved in the development.
“The FCAS is a political project launched by President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017, and at a standstill since summer 2021. So, yes, today it is done. We have an agreement with Airbus,” said the Dassault CEO.
The project has gone through controversies between Airbus and Dassault, which dispute the leading role in society involving France, Germany and Spain.
The main objective of FCAS is to produce the NGF (New Generation Fighter) to replace the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, which are used by the air forces of the nations involved in the new project.
In addition to the fighter plane with stealth features, the group also designs an unmanned aircraft and a multi-domain combat cloud.
“We’ll now be able to move into the next phase of studies, known as 1B, to prepare for the development of a demonstrator, which should fly around 2029,” added Trapier.
According to the CEO, Dassault will be the main contractor and architect of the NGF project and will keep its knowledge and industrial technologies protected, since the manufacturer is experienced in fighter production since the first Mirage.
Despite being optimistic, Trappier’s speech indicates that the controversies of recent months may have delayed the development of the project. Previously, it was thought that the first flight of the NGF could take place in mid-2026, a stage now scheduled only for 2029. The entry into service of the new Airbus and Dassault fighter is scheduled for 2040.
With a cost in the double digits of a billion, the FCAS project tries to repeat past European partnerships, such as the Eurofighter itself, but hoped to bring together more countries.
A potential partner at the start of talks, the United Kingdom preferred to develop its own 6th generation fighter and already has the support of Sweden and Italy – Japan could be the next one involved.
Named Tempest, in honor of the old World War II plane, the program plans a fighter similar to the NGF.