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DAY 42

DAY 42

UNITED IN DEFENDING OUR FUTURE

From the Eurofighter to FCAS, Airbus collaborations keep people safe

On 27 March 1994, the Eurofighter took its first flight. The result of Europe’s largest military collaborative programme, it is still the world’s most advanced new generation swing-role combat aircraft available on the market today. 

Peter Weger, who piloted the first Eurofighter flight said: "I had little idea when I made that maiden flight from Manching what an amazing story this would become.”

In the 25 years since, over 500,000 flight hours have been accumulated by the 550 Eurofighters currently in operation. 

But with rapid advances in engineering and technology, Europe will soon need a new air combat approach to face future threats. 

Thanks to its long term evolution plan – which will keep the aircraft flying beyond 2040 – the Eurofighter will act as a bridge towards this new combat approach.

In 2019 this new approach started to take shape, as Airbus announced a partnership with Dassault Aviation to develop a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) for Europe. 

The precise requirements of FCAS are yet to be determined. But such a system needs to be both highly versatile and adaptable to meet current and future unknown threats. It needs to be able to cope with the complex nature of future air combat in hostile environments.

The system cannot rely on one type of asset, even if that asset is a next generation fighter.   

Instead, it needs to leverage the connected capabilities of multiple elements to fulfil, in novel ways, the missions at hand. Maximising the benefits of digitalisation will also be key to the success of the programme, using partnerships with non-traditional players and emerging start-ups, such as Starburst Accelerator, to bring in new ways of thinking and innovation.

“Never before has Europe been more determined to safeguard and foster its political and industrial autonomy and sovereignty in the defence sector…FCAS is one of the most ambitious European defence programs of the century…we are finally setting this high-technology program fully in motion,” says Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence & Space. 

FCAS is the most important defence project in European history. It ensures Europe’s technological leadership and its aerospace sovereignty for decades to come. The ambitious development of technologies for FCAS will not only strengthen the European engineering and technology industries, but will also foster innovations which will benefit the wider, civilian society.


“FCAS is one of the most ambitious European defence programs of the century…we are finally setting this high-technology program fully in motion.”

Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence & Space

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