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FCAS programme feasibility phase launched

6th November 2014 - 13:02 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The two-year feasibility phase of the joint French-UK Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme has been launched by the UK and French governments, with the award of defence co-operation contracts, worth £120 million, issued to industry on 5 November.

FCAS aims to develop an Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) by the 2030s that will be capable of conducting sustained surveillance, marking targets, gathering intelligence, deterring adversaries and carrying out strikes in hostile territory.

The programme will develop and compare two national designs and concepts that will lead to a joint system which could then be used for a potential follow-on UCAS demonstration programme.

Under the feasibility phase, six industry partners will explore concepts and options for the potential collaborative acquisition of a UCAS in the future. This phase follows the signing of a Statement of Intent at the Anglo-French Security and Defence Summit in January, and a Programme Arrangement at Farnborough in July.

Bernard Gray, Chief of Defence Materiel, UK Ministry of Defence, said:  ‘The development of UCAS is of vital importance to the UK and France, which have the most capable and experienced armed forces in Europe and well-established defence industrial bases. By working together and drawing on a common vision we will see military, technological and financial benefit and sustain skills to fulfil our mutual needs and aspirations in the combat air sector.’

Led by BAE Systems and Dassault, the joint study contract of £120 million is to be supplemented with additional UK and French national funding to the combined value of £80 million in the same period.

The two-year study will build the foundations on which a long-term joint programme will be based by focusing on the development of concepts for an operational system, and the maturation of key technologies that will be required for a future operational UCAS.

Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO, Dassault Aviation, said: ‘We welcome this new step, which prepares the future of both manned and UCAS. It ensures French and British companies maintain their technological excellence which is vital to competitiveness in a globalised environment, and shows the commitment of France and Britain to remain leading aviation powers.’

In addition to BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation, Thales France, Selex ES, Rolls-Royce and Safran will work on the programme.

Thales and Selex ES have been awarded contracts to lead, specify and define the FCAS’s multifunction sensor suite and communications sub-systems. Additionally, they will define the sensor suite and communication roadmaps and identify the costs associated with producing an operational FCAS. The cooperation also includes joint technology maturation activities to inform the design activities.

Following the completion of the study at the end of 2016, work could then commence on a UCAS demonstration development programme that addresses both nations’ future military requirements.

The Shephard News Team


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