During the 2018 edition of the Berlin International Air Show [ILA]France and Germany signed the Form of expression of needs [ou HLCORD – High level command operations requirements document] about the Future Air Combat System [SCAF]a program they had launched a year earlier.
At the same time, and according to the so-called “best athlete” principle, Dassault Aviation and Airbus reached an agreement in principle concerning their future cooperation for the development of the future combat aircraft [NGF, New Generation Fighter], whose project management was to go to the manufacturer of the Rafale. And, for the engines, the French Safran and the German MTU did the same.
Subsequently, a scale model of the NGF was unveiled in June 2019, at the Paris Air and Space Show, and Spain was accepted into this program, for which it designated, at the the expense of the Spanish subsidiary of Airbus, the defense electronics group Indra as coordinator of the activities of the Spanish manufacturers approached to participate. Then, after some tension between Paris and Berlin, Safran and MTU agreed to create a joint venture, called EUMET EUMET GmbH, whose headquarters were then to be established in Munich.
However, and after many twists and turns, the SCAF is currently stuck in phase 1B, due to a disagreement between Dassault Aviation and Airbus on the NGF, which is the program’s No. 1 pillar. To sum up, the French industrialist wants to keep the levers allowing him to ensure the project management, which his designated partner disputes.
Anyway, after a four-year eclipse due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Berlin Air Show was able to take place again this year. And, of course, he couldn’t ignore FCAS. [ou FCAS]. A chalet dedicated to this European program has therefore been opened, with, on one of its facades, an illustration of this program, with a mention of the manufacturers involved.
Awkward communication? Or should we see something else? Still, neither Dassault Aviation, nor Thales and even Indra are included… On the other hand, this illustration highlights Airbus, EUMET [avec Safran et MTU]MBDA [partenaire d’Airbus pour les effecteurs connectés, ndlr] as well as the FCMS consortium, which brings together Hensoldt, Diehl Defence, ESG and Rohde & Schwarz.
In addition, the profile supposed to represent the NGF is not the same as that unveiled during the 2019 edition of the Paris Air Show. [et qui est repris, depuis, par la communication du ministère des Armées]. And for good reason: it is the one that was presented for the NGWS project [Next Generation Weapon System]which Berlin had considered in 2016 to replace the PANAVIA Tornado [voir illustration de l’article, ndlr].
— Dominic Perry (@fg_domperry) June 22, 2022
Be that as it may, these “oversights” have not escaped Dominic Perry, the deputy editor of the American trade magazine Flight Global. “Hmm, wasn’t there another partner on the FCAS, Dassault Aviation? “, he challenged on Twitter.
However, the ILA exhibition website explains that the purpose of this chalet dedicated to SCAF is to highlight the involvement of German industry.
“With the NGWS, for the first time, a weapon system is developed as a system of systems from the start. The combination of NGF, connected effectors and the Air Combat Cloud will form the core of the SCAF. In this SCAF, not only the components of the NGWS, but also other platforms such as the Eurofighter, the A400M transport aircraft, the Eurodrone, the satellites and the helicopters will be interconnected in order to exchange information and integrate their capabilities into the system of systems”, recall the organizers of the show.
And to add: “To achieve this, these ‘existing systems’ must also be subject to further development in order to prepare them for their new roles within FCAS. […] the first functionalities of which can be made available to the Bundeswehr before 2040. You will be able to discover how German industry will meet the challenges of an air combat system of the future at the ILA 2022”.