The French Minister of Defense was categorical regarding the progress of the development program of the next-generation multi-role stealth combat aircraft with the brand “Future Air Combat System – FCAS” to a question he received from journalists, in the context of a joint press conference with his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht.
Specifically, Sebastian Lecornou characteristically said that “FCAS is a top priority and construction of the fighter will be completed”. The French Minister of Defense wanted to give a clear answer, in order to send a “message of unity” and firm will to the European defense industry, which is experiencing serious problems with its FCAS development program. In particular, France, Germany and Spain, which is the third partner in the development program, have had tough and difficult negotiations over the workload and responsibilities that each contracting party will share in the program.
Finally, they signed an agreement in August 2021 which foresees an investment of 3.6 billion euros for the initial stage of research and design but that’s where the positive developments stopped. And this is because the French company Dassault Aviation and Airbus (representing Germany and Spain) have not yet signed the contracts for the start of the work, as there is a disagreement regarding the undertaking of the FCAS sub-programs.
Where does the program “stuck”?
Such as he stated a few months ago the General Manager of Dassault, the dispute between the two sides exists because the Germans do not want the French company to lead the manufacture of the fighter jet. At this point, let us note that Airbus has taken over the design and construction of the ‘loyal wingman’that is, of an unmanned aircraft that will operate together with the stealth fighter, the Spanish company Indra has undertaken the development of advanced sensors and France’s Safran is responsible for building a next-generation engine.
In this light, the statements of the French Minister of Defense they seem to aim to show that the above problems will be overcome because as he himself characteristically stated: “we have to think about what the fighter aircraft of the future will look like, because we will need it”.