Editor’s Note: Britain and France are looking to the future of air combat for the respective nations and have announced the full-scale development of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) an unmanned effort which could replace current generation aircraft in both countries. The goal for project fruition is in the 2030s, around the same time our own Next Generation Air Dominance Platform should be maturing.

Britain and France will begin full-scale development of an unmanned Future Combat Air System (FCAS) that could replace current-generation European fighters in the 2030 time frame. The two nations will commit £1.54 billion ($2.1 billion) to the joint effort, according to an agreement announced on March 3.

The FCAS builds on Britain’s development of the Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle and the pan-European Neuron UCAV project led by France’s Dassault Aviation. Britain and France signed an agreement at the Farnborough Airshow in July 2014 to conduct a two-year feasibility study of the FCAS, which has been discussed as a potential far-term replacement for fourth-generation Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon fighters.

Taranis taxiing at Warton, Lancashire. (Photo courtesy of UK MoD)
Taranis taxiing at Warton, Lancashire. (Photo courtesy of UK MoD)

The latest agreement was announced at a defense summit in Amiens, France, attended by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande. Each nation will contribute £750 million ($1.06 billion) to the FCAS effort, according to media reports. The industry partners that will participate in the project include BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and the Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems division in the UK, and Dassault, Snecma and Thales in France.

In a statement issued during the summit, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The Future Combat Air System project will give the UK and France the most advanced vehicle of its kind in Europe, securing high-end engineering jobs and expertise in both countries with full-scale development of prototypes starting in 2017.”

Speaking for itself and its partners, Dassault said it was “delighted at the two countries’ shared intention to pursue cooperation in military aviation, and particularly to launch a new phase in 2017 with the ‘scale 1’ development of a UCAS operational demonstrator. It is important to prepare for the future in the strategic field of combat UAVs,” added Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier.

The original article can be viewed in its entirety here.

(Featured graphic: Etude de concept SCAF (Système de Combat Aérien Futur/Dassault Aviation)