The FCAS program framework agreement signed at the Paris Air Show

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On the occasion of the opening of the Paris Air Show taking place, as always, at Le Bourget, the French President, E.Macron, accompanied by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, the German Minister of Defense U .von der Leyen, and the Spanish Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, signed the framework agreement linking the 3 nations in the FCAS program, and to launch the first phase of development of the demonstrator, whose first flight is expected for 2026. The demonstrator of the program must be composed, simultaneously, of a new generation fighter, identified by the acronym NGF for New Generation Fighter, a combat drone identified by the acronym RC for Remote Carrier, and a system of shared information and data exchange, designated by the acronym ACC for Air Combat Cloud.

At the same time, a “1-scale” model of the NGF was presented to the audience of officials and representatives of governments and military authorities. The objective was, obviously, to give substance to the project, particularly in the face of the British Tempest. We note, moreover, that the model has a very pronounced V-shaped tail, unlike the scale model presented by Dassault Aviation a few months ago.

Teaser of the DGA's FCAS program published 2 days before the opening of the 2019 Paris Air Show

This signature comes as Spain, which insisted on joining the program during its needs definition phase, said it was open to acquiring the American F35, to replace its Harrier embarked aircraft, but also to possibly replace or strengthen its F18s. A statement which, obviously, is far from satisfying the French and the Germans, who have constantly designated the F35 as enemy number 1 of the European aeronautical defense industry. Furthermore, Germany most likely had to hope that Madrid would choose the Typhoon to replace its F18s, as Berlin is about to do to replace its Tornados, despite pressure from Washington and NATO headquarters. However, the Spanish Navy, like all those operating Harriers today, has little choice, other than the F35B, in terms of an aircraft that can operate from a STOBAR aircraft carrier with arresting wires and springboard or straight deck aircraft carriers like LHDs. Giving up on the F35B would mean, for them, giving up an onboard naval aeronautical component.

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One thing is certain, the FCAS program will still go through many periods of uncertainty before producing its first operational combat aircraft, scheduled to enter service in 2040.

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