The Future Combat Air System is a key instrument in ensuring future European autonomy and sovereignty in defence & security.

Furthermore, it strengthens Europe as an industry and technology hotspot, not just in the defence sector, but with important spill-overs into the civilian world.

How did we get where we are today? And what have been the most important FCAS milestones so far?

First of all, FCAS is progressing well as planned!

The very first decision to develop a joint European Air Defence System of the next generation was taken by Chancellor Merkel and President Macron, in summer 2017.  

Since then, Germany and France have repeatedly underlined their ambition to realise this important European undertaking, which is considered an important – if not the most important – instrument of an integrated European Defence Policy. 

Chancellor Merkel and President Macron

At ILA 2018, the German and French Defence Ministers, Ursula von der Leyen and Florence Parly, signed a “High Level Common Operational Requirements Document” (HLCORD), defining the common expectations and requirements for a Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) within a FCAS.

In parallel, Airbus and Dassault Aviation, in their roles as National Industry Primes for Germany and France, agreed on a wide-ranging transnational industry collaboration to jointly lead this ambitious project, with Dassault Aviation leading the development of the New Generation Fighter (NGF) and Airbus Defence and Space as the main partner.

In turn, Airbus is in charge of Remote Carriers (RC) with main MBDA as main partner and the System-of-System/Air Combat Cloud (SoS/ACC) with Thales. 

FCAS

Another important operational milestone followed in February 2019, with the signing of the Franco-German “Joint Concept Study” (JCS), the very first transnational contract for a FCAS, with a volume of 65m € and a duration of two years.

Only a few months later, in May 2019, during the Paris Airshow at Le Bourget, we experienced a remarkable step towards the Europeanisation of FCAS with Spain officially joining the programme.

And finally, in February 2020, we received the contract for the Demonstrator Phase 1A, with a volume of 155m € and a duration of 18 months, which signals the beginning of the technology development & maturation for a FCAS.

In the meantime, of course, negotiations with the governments and our industry partners have started for a Demonstrator Phase 1B that will build on the work currently performed in Phase 1A. Additionally, the full integration of Spanish industry in FCAS is under way.

All in all, and considering the magnitude & complexity of the programme, these are remarkable achievements within a relatively short period of time – which would have not been possible without the good & trustful collaboration of all partners involved!  

A trip down memory lane: Airbus’ Future Air Power video

Multi-Domain Combat Cloud

Multi-Domain Combat Cloud

Collaborative Combat across all Domains

MUT

Manned-unmanned teaming (MUT)

In 2018, Airbus successfully performed manned-unmanned teaming (MUT) test flight campaigns, confirming the company’s expertise in controlling remote carriers from a manned aircraft. These test campaigns included demonstrations with five Airbus-built Do-DT25 target drones controlled from a mission group commander airborne in a manned command and control aircraft.

FCAS

ASTARTES

The Air Superiority Tactical Assistance Real Time Execution System is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) project that aims to digitise the human-level experience to support operators with their tactical coordination tasks in the context of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Future Combat Air System: Airbus and Fraunhofer FKIE create expert panel on the responsible use of new technologies

The expert panel, which was first initiated in Germany in 2019, currently includes stakeholders such as the German Ministry of Defence, German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foundations, universities as well as think tanks. Learn more on the dedicated website www.fcas-forum.eu

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FCAS

Media Centre

Browse our photos, videos and downloadable assets of FCAS

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Latest FCAS news

Defence
For Air Defenders - Airbus Defence and Space produces 2,000th target drone
For more than 20 years, Air Defenders around the world have been training with Airbus Defence and Space target drones - ensuring that their countries' air defences work when it counts. Airbus' Target Systems & Services has now produced its 2,000th drone in Friedrichshafen.
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Defence
Key milestones achieved in Manned-Unmanned Teaming for future air power
The ability to task unmanned systems from a manned aircraft is an important force multiplier in Airbus’ vision for future air power, with a wide range of applications extending to combat scenarios and beyond.
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Defence
Future Combat Air System: A400M clears the first hurdle as a Remote Carrier launcher
Airbus A400M, the world’s most advanced multi-role airlifter utilised by military forces around the globe, has demonstrated a new capability, as an airborne launcher of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fulfilling a vital function for the Future Combat Air System.
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