A consortium of Dassault Aviation and Airbus has been awarded a contract to undertake a joint concept study (JCS) to support the development of a next-generation combat jet.
The contract represents the first-ever award by Germany and France under the future combat air system (FCAS) programme.
The decision by the countries to embark on the FCAS programme is set to begin the replacement of their current fleet of combat aircraft, namely Dassault’s Rafale and Germany’s Eurofighters, by 2024.
France and Germany reached an agreement in 2017 to jointly work on the future air combat system, which was followed by the signing of a high level common operational requirements document (HLCORD).
Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said: “This new step is the cornerstone to ensure tomorrow’s European strategic autonomy. We, as Dassault Aviation, will mobilise our competencies as a system architect and integrator, to meet the requirements of the nations and to keep our continent as a world-class leader in the crucial field of air combat systems.”
Last year, Dassault and Airbus agreed to collaborate to develop and produce the FCAS.
The two-year JCS will include identifying preferred baseline concepts for key components of the FCAS, including next-generation fighter (NGF), unmanned systems such as remote carriers (RCs) and a system of systems FCAS architecture and associated next-generation services.
Dassault and Airbus will assess the operational and technical viability of the aircraft to explore the possibility of future design, industrialisation, as well as an estimated full operational capability by 2040.
The partners will also evaluate programme feasibility of the baseline concepts.
Airbus Defence and Space CEO Dirk Hoke said: “With today’s contract signature, we are finally setting this high-technology programme fully in motion.
“Both companies are committed to providing the best solutions to our nations with regard to the new generation fighter, as well as the systems of systems accompanying it.”
Meanwhile, Safran has teamed up with MTU Aero Engines to develop and produce the engine for the proposed fighter jet.
The partners will be responsible for providing after-sales support services for the new engine.