Industrial launch of the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program

On February 6, 2019, the French Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, and her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, went to Gennevilliers, on the site of the company Safran, to give the industrial launch of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program (SCAF, Système de Combat Aérien du Futur). "The FCAS, the Franco-German fighter jet of the future, will anchor the rapprochement of our air forces, at the operational and technological level. Thank you to engineers, airmen and industrialists - French and German - who are already working tirelessly on this project", Florence Parly said.

Industrial launch of the Franco German Future Air Combat System Franco-German New Generation Fighter (NGF) concept, part of the  Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program (Illustration source: French MoD)

This planned Next Generation Weapons System will consist of a highly capable manned "New Generation Fighter" (NGF) teaming with a set of new and upgraded weapons as well as a set of unmanned systems (Remote Carriers) linked by a Combat Cloud and its Ecosystem embedded in a System-of-Systems FCAS architecture.

The ministers announced two essential milestones for the development of this structuring project for the European defense:

- An industrial agreement between the two engine manufacturers, the French Safran and the German MTU. During the visit of the ministers, Safran and MTU signed an agreement of industrial cooperation for the motorization of the SCAF. This agreement will be followed in mid-2019 by the signing of a contract between France and Germany for the engine demonstrator of this new-generation combat aircraft.

- The notification of the contract of concepts and architecture of the SCAF to Dassault and Airbus. This contract allows manufacturers to define the main lines of the SCAF and each of its components. 65 million euros are devoted to this contract. The starting date for the two-year study is February 20, 2019. The JCS will conceptualize the different FCAS capabilities and to pave the way for future design, industrialization, and an estimated full operational capability by 2040. The Joint Concept Study will prepare and initiate demonstrator programs for launch at the Paris Air Show in June 2019.

In addition, the French Minister of the Armed Forces inaugurated, with her German counterpart, the new turbine blade development platform of the Safran site of Gennevilliers and announced the notification to Safran of a survey contract of 115 Million euros for turbine blades of new generation (so-called "Turenne 2" studies). These studies will make it possible to gain 150 degrees by 2025 on the temperature of the high pressure turbines of the engines. Today, a Rafale engine supports an already very high temperature of about 1,850 degrees. This is to make an engine capable of withstanding a temperature of about 2,000 degrees. This type of technological development is essential for the development of the engine of the combat aircraft of the future.

Industrial launch of the Franco German Future Air Combat System 002 Franco-German Future Air Combat System (SCAF, Système de Combat Aérien du Futur) concept at Euronaval 2018 (Picture source: Air Recognition)

The stages of the SCAF:

July 2017 - Franco-German Council of Ministers in Paris: the President of the French Republic and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany affirm their intention to strengthen European defense, notably through industrial cooperation.

April 24, 2018 - ILA air show in Berlin: French and German air force chiefs of staff, in the presence of the two Defense ministers, sign an agreement defining the operational requirements (HLCORD) in the presence CEOs of Airbus and Dassault.

19 June 2018 - Franco-German Council of Ministers in Meseberg: Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen, sign the letter of intent for the SCAF.

19 November 2018 - Brussels: Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen meet on the sidelines of a European Council to clarify the industrial organization of SCAF. In particular: 1. A concept and architecture study entrusted to co-leadership at Airbus and Dassault. 2. A "driver" demonstrator study entrusted to Safran as a leader and to MTU as a subcontractor. 3. A "plane" demonstrator study entrusted to Dassault as leader and Airbus as subcontractor.

February 6, 2019 - During a visit to the Safran-Gennevilliers site, the two ministers announce the signature of the architecture and concept contract for Dassault and Airbus, as well as the agreement between Safran and MTU. The SCAF is formally launched, the industrialists are at work.

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