PARIS. The next steps of the development of a fighter jet to replace the French Rafales and German and Spanish Eurofighters from 2040 onwards is all set to move ahead with an agreement reached by France, Spain and Germany.
On Monday (17 May), French Defence Minister Florence Parly announced that the three nations had finalised an agreement that will allow industry partners to start developing a flying prototype aircraft as part of the Future Combat Aircraft System (FCAS) programme. “With the fighter jet of the future we are strengthening the capabilities, industry and technology in Europe,” she said. Additionally, the prototype will be powered by a Rafale engine, giving the producers more time to develop a new engine for the aircraft.
The next development phase for the FCAS is likely to cost around $4 billion, which will be shared equally by the three countries. It will cover finalisation of the designs of both the combat jet and drone and the building of demonstrators for both.
The FCAS programme, estimated to cost over $120 billion, will be the Europe’s largest defence project and is expected to reach full operational capacity by 2040. It will be a “system of systems’’ including not only the new fighter aircraft, but also an upgraded weapon system, new remote carrier drones, an advanced combat cloud, a new jet engine, and advanced sensors and stealth technologies.
The programme will be executed by France’s Dassault Aviation, Germany’s Airbus and Spain’s Indra Sistemas along with other European defence firms.