Development of FCAS combat aircraft back on track after Airbus and Dassault reach agreement

©Dassault Aviation

For the past year, Airbus – representing German interests – and Dassault – representing French interests, had been unable to reach agreement over the workshare for the new Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The new aircraft, intended to replace the Eurofighter and Dassault’s Rafale, will be a combination of manned and unmanned aircraft and are projected to enter into service in 2040.

However, while Dassault had been given the role of project leader, Airbus had lodged several objections over what it saw was an unfair division of the work involved in the FCAS. Consequently, while the current stage is still only preliminary studies, the project – originally meant to unify Europeans after the migration crisis and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union – has created tension while France and Germany struggled to agree on the next stage of FCAS’ development. Certain sources blamed Dassault, which had stood firm over a long-running row over intellectual property rights, while others blamed Airbus for pushing for a bigger workshare, demanding that it should be given “equal footing” with Dassault.

Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said in a statement: “This overall industrial agreement represents a big step forward for this European defence flagship programme”. “Today, yes, it is done. We have an agreement with Airbus,” said Eric Trappier, Chief Executive of Dassault Aviation which is heading the fighter jet programme.

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