Setback to European Fighter Jet as Companies in Deadlock

Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS) fighter jet program has suffered a setback as the two main contractors have failed to reach an agreement on its development.

The FCAS program was established to develop a sixth-generation aircraft by 2040 with three stakeholders: France, Germany, and Spain.  

The program is yet to enter research and development and risks falling behind schedule if participating companies can not compromise on key workshare allowances. Two of the three prime contractors, Airbus and Dassault, haven’t reached a deal to launch research and development work.

“We have done everything possible to sign with Airbus, and I’m waiting for Airbus’ signature,” Dassault CEO Eric Trappier reportedly said in a meeting. “The problem is on the other side of the Rhine.”

Airbus, meanwhile, has not issued a statement regarding the issue. The delay risks pushing back the delivery schedule for the FCAS program.

Europe’s Future Combat Air System

France and Germany announced their collaboration to develop a new generation fighter in 2017. The jet was to replace the current French 4.5-generation Rafales fighter, German Eurofighter Typhoon, and Spanish Typhoon.

An investment deal worth 150 million euros ($162.92 million) was signed in February 2020 for the early development work of the new jet. In December 2020, Spain also joined the program.

Scheduled to fly for the first time in 2030, the jet was slated for deployment between 2040 and 2045.

The program has been divided into seven technology “pillars,” each led by a separate company and subcontractors. Dassault is responsible for the new jet, Airbus is leading the “loyal wingman” remote-carrier design, new cloud capabilities, and stealth technologies.

Spanish company Indra is responsible for the sensor systems pillar, while French airspace company Safran is building a new jet engine for the aircraft.

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