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Kick-off of Future Combat Aircraft Demonstrator for European project FCAS


As part of last week’s awarding of the Phase 1A Demonstrators contract for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), Airbus and Thales have signed an agreement for the development of the Air Combat Cloud which will enable the FCAS system of systems. The first flight tests of this demonstrator are planned for 2026.


Kick off of Future Combat Aircraft Demonstrator for European project SCAF 925 002 Patrice Caine Chairman and CEO of Thales and Dirk Hoke CEO of Airbus Defense and Space (Picture source: S. Ramadier/Airbus)


The agreements were also signed by French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the Secretary of State to the Spanish Defense Minister Ángel Olivares Ramírez at the Hôtel de Brienne in Toulouse, France.

FCAS will deliver increasing operational effects by leveraging the collaborative capabilities of connected manned and unmanned platforms, bringing the next level of Air Power to denied environments. Within FCAS, the Air Combat Cloud will in real-time connect and synchronise all the platforms and enable the processing and distribution of information to enhance situational awareness and collaborative operations.


Kick off of Future Combat Aircraft Demonstrator for European project SCAF 925 003 Conceptual image of the Future Combat Air System under development in France and Germany (Picture source: Dassault)


Lasting 18 months, this phase will focus on the main technological challenges per domains:

• Next-Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as the prime contractor and Airbus as the main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System,
• Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as the prime contractor and MBDA as the main partner,
• Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as the prime contractor and Thales as the main partner,
• Engine with Safran and MTU as the main partner.

The main manufacturers involved at the R&D stage of the program are Dassault Aviation, Safran, MBDA France and Thales for France; Airbus Germany, MTU, MBDA Germany and the FCMS consortium (Hensoldt, Diehl Defense, Rhode & Schwarz, ESG) for Germany; and Indra and Airbus Spain for Spain.

SCAF is the result of the expression of a common military need. The operational imperative for air combat in the second half of the 21st century, it will allow France to maintain its military rank and assume its strategic ambitions. This European aircraft of the future will also be a powerful lever for the integration of European air forces.