Defense ministers of France and the United Kingdom endorsed today the plan to launch the development of full scale operational demonstrator of the ‘Future Combat Air System’ Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) next year. This phase will prepare for the full-scale development of unmanned combat air system (UCAS) operational demonstrators by 2025. At a cost of €2 billion this demonstration programme, the most advanced of its kind in Europe, will be centered on a versatile UCAS platform that could serve as the basis for a future operational capability beyond 2030.

FCAS (Future Combat Air System) candidate design. Illustration: Dassault Aviation.
FCAS (Future Combat Air System) candidate design. Illustration: Dassault Aviation.

The first phase of the program was launched at the Brize Norton Summit in 2014, at an investment of £120 Million, where France and the UK explored the feasibility of such future combat air systems. The first phase was a two-year feasibility study, which will continue next year into the follow-on demonstration programme. The project partners are Dassault Aviation, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, SNECMA/Safran, Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division and Thales. The FCAS program continues following previous research programs conducted separately in the UK and France, including the BAE SystemsTaranis and the international collaborative nEUROn program lead by Dassault Aviation.

The next phase will be a technical review, scheduled for 2020. Under the research programs the two countries will also to analyse the future combat air environment including how manned and unmanned systems might operate together.