BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation along with industrial partners have been awarded a £120 million two-year contract by the UK and French governments to help define the Franco-British requirement for a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme.
Co-operation between the UK and France is seen as the optimum way to progress an Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) solution, whilst supporting both governments’ intentions for closer defence ties. The joint study contract of £120 million is to be supplemented with additional UK and French national funding to the combined value of £80 million in the same period.
The two-year study will build the foundations on which a long-term joint programme will be based by focusing on: The development of concepts for an operational system and the maturation of key technologies that will be required for a future operational UCAS.
The contract was officially awarded to BAE Systems CEO Ian King and Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, by the heads of the British and French defence procurement agencies, Bernard Gray, Chief of Defence Materiel for the UK MoD and Laurent Collet-Billon, Délégué Général pour l’Armement for the French DGA, during a ceremony at Dassault Aviation’s headquarters, Saint Cloud, France, on November 5 2014.
Eric Trappier said: “We welcome this new step, which prepares the future of both manned and unmanned combat air systems. It ensures French and British companies maintain their technological excellence which is vital to competitiveness in a globalised environment, and shows the commitment of France and Britain to remain leading aviation powers."
Ian King added: “This contract award is a key step in the partnership between our two nations, governments, and industries. The Feasibility Phase will allow UK and French industry to work closely together and provide a strong foundation for a potential follow-on Future Combat Air System Demonstration programme as well as supporting a number of highly skilled jobs.”
Following the completion of the study at the end of 2016, work could then commence on a UCAS demonstration development programme that addresses both nations’ future military requirements.
The Feasibility Phase will sustain hundreds of highly skilled jobs at Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems with more jobs sustained by Rolls-Royce, Selex ES, Snecma (Safran), Thales and SME's involved in the programme. In addition, the contract supports the strategically important Military Aerospace Industries in both nations and is testament to the importance that the UK and French governments place in maintaining a cutting edge, sovereign military air capability.