£120m contracts announced in UK/French aerospace programme

BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation and their industrial partners have been awarded a £120m contract by the UK and French governments for a two year co-operative Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Feasibility Phase study.

The study formally signals the start of work on the next generation of combat aircraft. This is being touted as the first step towards what could become a full demonstration programme that shapes the future of combat aerospace in Europe.

Following the political-level agreement announced at the Farnborough Air Show in July this year, BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation have been awarded a two-year contract by the UK and French governments to help define the Franco-British requirement for a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme.

The contract was officially awarded to Ian King, CEO of BAE Systems, 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, in Saint Cloud, France.

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.”

Co-operation between the UK and France is hoped to lead to a progression of the UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) solution, whilst also supporting both governments’ intentions for closer defence ties. The joint study contract of £120m/€150m is to be supplemented with additional UK and French national funding to the combined value of £80m/€100m in the same period.

The two-year study is designed to build the foundations on which a long-term joint programme will be based on. The goal of this will be to achieve a new focus on the development of concepts for an operational system, and the maturation of key technologies which aree required for a future operational UCAS.

Following the completion of the study at the end of 2016, work is scheduled to commence on a UCAS demonstration development programme that addresses both nations’ future military requirements.

The Feasibility Phase of the project will safeguard the continuation of hundreds of skilled jobs at BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation, with more jobs also sustained by Rolls-Royce, Selex ES, Snecma (Safran), Thales and SME’s involved in the programme.