UK to finance FCAS project alone

According to a statement from the British Ministry of Defense, BAe has been awarded a contract to continue the development of the Future Combat Air System, or FCAS. There is no mention in this press release of any collaboration with French industries, although the project was initially supposed to be the pivot of Franco-British cooperation sealed by the Lancaster-House agreements in 2011.

During a first phase of this development, each country had to develop its own demonstrator, so as to constitute a technological catalog serving as a framework for future joint achievement. This is how BAe developed the Taranis, while Dassault, with 4 European partners, developed the Neuron.

Following the Brexit vote, Great Britain and France put the project on hold to wait for more clarity on possible cooperation. But following the election of President Macron, and the announcements concerning the Franco-German FCAS program, the British warned the French that there was no longer any question, for them, of developing a combat drone, and that they would develop a reconnaissance drone instead. In fact, the FCAS program became a simple technological cooperation between France and Great Britain, and the combat drone project was attached to the FCAS program.

It is in this context that this announcement comes, and clarifies things. Indeed, obviously, BAe has the mandate to develop the FCAS program, and not a simple reconnaissance drone. We therefore understand that the exclusion of the British from the FCAS program has left significant traces, and that the Franco-British collaboration in defense matters, although rich in success, is likely to be sacrificed on the altar of a certain excessive Germanophilia. This is all the more regrettable since the schedule of the FCAS, which was initially due to enter service in 2030, corresponded to a strong operational need, linked to the rise in power of access denial systems, preventing devices like the Rafale or Typhoon to ensure air superiority.

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