By connecting a range of manned and unmanned platforms, the Future Combat Air System can help secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector.

In the past, combat pilots had to do a lot of things by themselves. But times are changing: future air power will be based on a network of intelligent, connected platforms, delivering highly accurate, real-time information.

Airbus and Dassault Aviation have joined forces with the intention of developing and producing Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The forward-looking solution will aim to secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector for the coming decades.

FCAS explained

The FCAS concept comprises a system of systems to connects manned and unmanned air platforms, including a next-generation fighter aircraft, Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the existing fleet of aircraft such as the A400M and Eurofighter, future cruise missiles, and combat drones flying in swarms. Each component is made smarter by connecting them via satellite constellations and cyber-secured networks. The new fighter aircraft would be at the heart of FCAS, able to control unmanned platforms to autonomously carry out multiple tasks .

Ready for future threats

The global environment is increasingly unpredictable, as are challenges to security. Nations must be able to respond at home, abroad and online against a variety of threats. With FCAS, France and Germany are leading the way by jointly developing the next generation of capabilities.

Roadmap for development

The roadmap is a work in progress. Some technologies will mature earlier and be brought into the current aircraft (Eurofighter and Rafale), some will be tested on prototypes and demonstrators, and implemented when fully mature in the final system. The next generation of fighter aircraft are expected to enter service between 2035 and 2040.  

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