Dhe Future Combat Air System (FCAS), Europe’s largest armaments project with an estimated total volume of up to 100 billion euros, is in the starting blocks. The Federal Ministry of Defense announced on Friday that “after intensive negotiations” industrial agreements on the next phase of the program could be reached. Representatives from Germany, France and Spain were involved, as well as the European aerospace group Airbus and the French armaments company Dassault Aviation on the industrial side.
The ministry also announced that parallel to these industrial negotiations, “it was confirmed at the highest government level that the project, which is under overall French responsibility, will be pursued as a cooperative approach on an equal footing”. “The political agreement at FCAS is a great step and – especially in these times – an important sign of the excellent German-French-Spanish cooperation,” said Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht in the statement. An Airbus spokesman spoke of a “significant step forward for this European flagship program in the defense sector”.
A final signing of the contract is planned for the coming days. Before that, Berlin, Paris and Madrid still have to give the green light, in the case of Germany the approval of the budget committee in the Bundestag is necessary. However, this is only a matter of form.
The FCAS project, initiated in 2017 by the then Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, envisages the construction of fighter jets and drone swarms that are networked with each other via data clouds (combat clouds). From 2040 onwards, the system is intended to replace the Rafale and Eurofighter combat aircraft currently used by the armed forces in Germany, France and Spain. The complexity of the project and the different ideas of the industrial companies involved regarding the division of labor have led to tough negotiations over the past few months.