The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme of the three partner countries France, Germany and Spain is taking a step forward after a long delay. According to press reports in Le Figaro and La Tribune newspapers, Dassault Aviation has reached an agreement with Airbus Defence and Space on the New Generation Fighter (NGF) component. This should clear the way for the implementation of Phase 1B of the FCAS project, in which technology demonstrators are due to be developed in seven so-called Pillars, with Pillar 1 centring on the NGF. Previously, German and French government agencies had reported weeks ago about a breakthrough in the talks, however, this was rejected by Dassault. Most recently, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had spoken of an agreement at FCAS in his speech at the Berlin Security Conference on 1 December 2022.
Commenting on the agreement, Michael Schöllhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said, “All industrial partners of the Future Combat Air System have now signed the relevant agreements to start the next phase of the program, Demonstration Phase 1B.” The industry agreement is a major step forward for Europe’s flagship defence program, Schöllhorn stated, “It paves the way for a final contract signature between nations and industrial partners once the relevant processes are completed in the respective customer nations. We are optimistic that this can happen in the very near future.” For Germany, this means that the funds for the demonstration phase still have to be released by the Bundestag’s budget committee.
Airbus has purportedly already signed its industrial contract for FCAS Pillar 1 some time ago, while Dassault hesitated until the very end. Phase 1B will be financed equally by the three partner countries.