Future Air Combat System (FCAS): an unprecedented opportunity for European defence

A Senate report published on July 16 rules for the acceleration of the Rafale successor programme

The development of the FCAS demonstrator has been launched since February 2020, after a year of Franco-German negotiations, Spain having recently joined the cooperation. According to the rapporteurs Ronan le Gleut (Les Républicain) and Hélène Conway-Mouret (Socialist and Republican), we must now move up a gear and get out of the politics of small steps, by signing in 2021 a framework contract covering several years of development.

This very large-scale programme promises to be structuring for the European industrial and technological base. Replacing the Rafale and the Eurofighter, an alternative to the F35 and its successors, the FCAS is also vital for the strategic autonomy of its three member countries.

Given the investment to be made, export will be imperative. The total cost of the programme is generally estimated between 50 and 80 billion euros, to be shared between the partners. For the record, the total cost of the Rafale programme was estimated in 2011 at 43 billion euros for 286 planes and the F35 already costs 400 billion dollars.

The FCAS will be operational from 2040 to 2080 at least. This meeting with the future should not be missed: artificial intelligence, a combat cloud combining drones, stealth and a high-performance engine are at the heart of the expected innovations and must make the FCAS an unparalleled “system of systems”.

Finally, the FCAS can also contribute to the post-COVID 19 industrial revival because it will lead to activities that cannot be relocated: “As with health crises, it is not when geopolitical crises arise that it is time to do so. worry about it. The FCAS protects our future ”declared Christian Cambon (Les Républicains), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and the Armed Forces

To view the EDR On-Line unofficial translation of the Report summary please click HERE

To access the French Senate website page allowing to view the whole report  (in French) please click HERE

Viewgraph courtesy French DGA