More structured and less constrained, the GCAP program (Great Britain, Italy and Japan) is ahead of FCAS

Initially presented as a quickly assembled response to the announcement of the (then) Franco-German FCAS 6th generation combat aircraft program, the GCAP program for Global Combat Air Platform, which brings together Great Britain, Italy and the Japan, seems to be taking the lead vis-à-vis its European competitor.

Indeed, speaking to the specialized press on the site of the British aircraft manufacturer BAe de Warton, its systems director for the Future Air Combat System, Herman Claesen, showed himself to be more than confident in the future of the program aimed at to become the first low-observable, supersonic, manned 6th-generation combat aircraft to enter service outside of the U.S. NGADs.

Therefore, Herman Claesen now believes that the goal of GCAP entry into service in 2035 is perfectly achievable, while the demonstrator of the program should take to the air “within 5 years”, that is to say in 2028, or before.

For BAe and its partners, this very ambitious schedule proves to be consubstantial with the commercial strategy surrounding the program, and in particular the major export ambitions targeted by the aircraft manufacturer which intends to no longer play second fiddle behind Dassault aviation on the international scene, as was the case with Typhoon towards the Rafale and the Tornado vis-à-vis the Mirage 2000.

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The GCAP program will have to take over from Typhoon within the RAF and the Italian Air Force, as well as the Japanese F2. These 3 forces also operate a large fleet of F-35 A and B stealth fighter bombers.

Moreover, during this press meeting, he several times addressed the latent competition with the FCAS program, placing the responsibility for his mistakes in part on the lack of experience of the aeronautical industry. French in cooperative programs, unlike Great Britain which has accumulated many in this area with the Tornado, the Typhoon and the Jaguar before them.

Above all, BAe seems to be making the calendar a strategic weapon for establishing itself on the international market and regaining market share lost in recent decades through previous cooperation programs.


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