Germany and France have recently agreed on the central requirements for a new fighter jet to replace Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale warplanes through a new program called “FCAS – Future Air Combat System”.
While the FCAS program will comprise both manned and unmanned aircraft that can be operated in conjunction, the unmanned systems will decisively shape the entire project's capabilities to ensure its survivability and assertiveness.
To realize this ambitious new project, Airbus and Dassault Aviation have signed an initial agreement to cooperate on Europe’s FCAS even though the two are rivals. New allies, they have decided to team up to ensure that Europe retains control over its future weapons systems. The systems will be designed to work together for future military missions, and this is why it was important for France and Germany to launch an initial joint study this year so they could get demonstrators of the technology done by 2025.
As we all know it, Airbus builds the Eurofighter while Dassault has the Rafale jet. The new fighter jet project will eventually replace the current generation of each fighter aircraft around 2035-2040. It was also decided that Dassault would take a lead role in the program as the majority of Airbus Defense & Space's operations are located in Germany. When questioned about who will do what, Dassault said they would decide who had the best skills and competencies to lead each part of the project, which is set to include a fighter jet and unmanned aerial vehicles as we know, but also everything related to connectivity and secure communications.
The FCAS program, as well as strengthening the political and military ties between Europe’s core nations, will reinvigorate its aerospace industry. Dassault and Airbus are now awaiting details from the French and German governments on the exact requirements for the program, other than the fact that the future fighter will be ITAR-free (International Traffic in Arms Regulations).
Yes, you read correctly, the new jet fighter will be designed and manufactured without any US component !!!
Without components acquired in the United States, the new fighter will be sovereign, preventing it from being submitted to the US legislation (ITAR) that could block future exports.
Finally, Dassault said the new fighter jet would not be a copy of the U.S. F-35 fighter, but would be more ambitious.
But of course, all this will get the “OK-to-go” as long as Germany does not decide to buy the F-35 to replace its Tornados… Because that would mean the FCAS would no longer be feasible.