The governments of France and Germany have awarded Dassault Aviation, Airbus, together with their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launches the demonstrator phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Airbus say that the FCAS will primarily be a sixth-generation jet fighter that, by around 2035–2040, will replace the current Rafales, Eurofighters and F-18 Hornets.

The firms say that this framework contract covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.

Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the programme’s so called Joint Concept Study. Now, the FCAS programme enters into another phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase.

This phase will, in a first step, focus on the main technological challenges per domains:

  • Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System,
  • Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner,
  • Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as main partner,
  • Engine with Safran and MTU as main partner.

A Simulation Environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators.

According to a news release:

“The launch of the Demonstrator Phase underlines the political confidence and determination of the FCAS partner nations and the associated industry to move forward and cooperate in a fair and balanced manner. The increased momentum enables industry to deploy the necessary resources and best capabilities to develop this decisive European defence project. FCAS will be the cornerstone project guaranteeing Europe’s future operational, industrial and technological sovereignty.

The next important step in the FCAS programme will be the onboarding of Spain and the involvement of additional suppliers from Phase 1B onwards, which will succeed Phase 1A after its successful conclusion.”

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Its my understanding this is something like $85m investment for the Germans, same for France. So not anywhere near the commitment of UK with £2b ear marked. Also from reading other articles it appears Spain has been left on the sidelines as there is a work share argument, sounds very familiar.


Hi Expat, Yeh, the UK seems to be increasingly willing to push the start button on international programmes. This is pretty much the same approach that they took on the Meteor AAM. By doing it this way they can set the parameters of the project i.e. what roles the aircraft will fulfill. If they are clever they set them with partner nations / exports in mind and attract partners / customers going forward. The UK’s financial commitment to Tempest should give confidence to potential partners as well. Seems to be working at the moment anyway, but this is the early… Read more »


Indeed. Interesting that Spain didn’t commit €85 million to the investment pot. Perhaps they’ve been deliberately left out of the money side of things to ensure they’re also left out of the design decisions.

Steve Taylor

My understanding of Eurofighter is that Germany and Spain have the biggest work share. Yet it is the RAF pushing the type and doing all hardwork and actually using the platform.

Paul T

Workshare mirrored orders,therefore Spain has the lowest of the Four Partners.


The parts workshare is fixed but final assembly goes to whoever makes the sale, so BAE sales would be built in Britain.


The situation is confused by the fact that the Spanish and German enterprises involved merged into EADS and then Airbus. The combined Airbus stake is 43%, the UK has 37.5% with Italy having 19.5%. In the real world though the UK has had far more than that by value as, unlike Germany and Spain, the bulk of the export orders have been taken by the UK. The UK then produces the aircraft from its line. So far the production totals (including yet to deliver firm orders) are: Germany – 158 built Spain – 73 built Italy – 124 (with possibility… Read more »


Correct, we have been pushing development on Typhoon. However, to make a change to the airframe or systems requires agreement from all four partner Nations. Initially it also required each of the Nations to stump up cash to pay for the developments. Because Spain and Germany were dragging their feet over agreements and payments, the UK and Italy have bypassed them. So even though the German Airforce has Tranche 3s, they are still early development ones and don’t have the Centurion software modification. They have said they will pay for the Captor-E upgrade which will come with the Centurion modification.… Read more »

Rob N

I think the Italians went with Tempest because they kew the French would hog the work share. Now the Spanish are left making the coffee wile the French and Germans build it.


Ear marked and actually spent are massively different.

All our procurement issues pretty much come down two one things, which is lots of talk but no actual money being spent resulting in spiraling costs caused by over runs.

I’m not saying France/Germany are any better at delivery but it’s way too early to predict if either solution will ever progress into an actual working fighter.


Inclined to agree, Tempest could be nothing more than an tool to gain a significant seat at the table on another programme US or European. I believe we did the same thing with Replica to demonstrate we were a Tier 1 capable partner on the JSF.


I think if the UK can get Japan on board as an industry partner they will have the numbers and R&D investment to see the project through without the US. I can’t see France and Germany funding their program successfully by themselves and there will be a lot of wrangling over work share with ghost orders of over 250 each to be replaced by 90.

Levi Goldsteinberg

They’re far behind on this already, they’re skipping 5th gen entirely, France is essentially bankrupt and its military is cut to the absolute bone, Germany never orders in enough numbers and both country’s industries will fight like dogs for every last contract.

Call me a cynic but I don’t see this going anywhere, just as France has pulled out of every last pan-Euro defence programme since the 80s

Ben Wah

Skipping 5th gen, how are you to learn from to move onto the next?

The US should start on their 10th gen fighter after our F-35 program ends.


France’s debt is 320% GDP VS the UK’s 440% (total private + public, the only one that really matters). The UK just leaft the FACS DP (UCAV) and most of the Lancaster agreement. France followed the tiger, A400M, FREMM … so much of “every last pan euro planes). And I hope France do leave this SCAF scam. Finally the definition of 5th gen is : 1) stealth, active of the rafale that is declassified since 2014 and LM and Sukhoi are developing the same system for the F35 and SU57 by 2030. Both are needed to achieve multistatic stealth. 2)… Read more »

Mr Bell

Can anyone see all those EU nations agreeing a specification of aircraft that fits all their requirements?
France needs an aircraft capable of carrier operations and potentially nuclear strike as well as air superiority.
Germany needs an aircraft capable of air superiority, close air support and deep penetration, possibly nuclear strike.
Spain needs air superiority and Strike
Netherlands air superiority and strike missions including maritime strike.

Alan Reid

Essentially, they all need a fighter-bomber, with the complication that the French need it to be carrier capable. And based on past experience, France will demand design leadership!
The Tempest project, should it ever evolve from giant Airfix kit into an full aircraft design, will also have design complications: if still on-board – the Swedes will probably need a light-weight fighter bomber, but with the British and Italians requiring something more capable and heavier.


Agreed, although I think we have fewer conflicts; the Swedish will likely want STO, because they like their gear to be able to take off from roads and stuff. That works fairly well with our likely desire to maintain our carrier strike capability. I believe even the Italians are looking at running F35B off of their large helicopter carrier/amphibs, so they may not mind this requirement either. With all this talk of unmanned/optionally manned and distributed lethality, everyone may be happier with more, smaller aircraft carrying lots of Spear 3 as well. Of course, there will always be a need… Read more »


Hi Mr Bell,
I wonder if this will tie into their plans of having an EU carrier. Would make sense to make this jet (if it happens) a carrier compliant one.
[email protected]


There are no such active plans outside of politicians flying kites.


A carrier compliant one would be quite different for various reasons however. Would it really be viable?


F-35 survived the three branches of the US Military having different requirements, Airforce got the F-35A a conventional aircraft, Marines got the F-35B a Stovl variant and Navy got the F-35C a Catobar variant with larger wings and fuel tanks.


You can forget about the Netherlands for the next 40 years.

They’re onboard with the F-35.


Is this the same as the Tempest program?


Yes it is and good luck with that.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Yes, only it is much more dubious and likely to fail


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Adrian was asking whether this programme (FCAS) is one and the same as the Tempest programme.

They are two separate projects, but both with the aim of producing a sixth-generation fighter, and both aiming for around the 2035 timeframe. Tempest is UK-led, while FCAS started as a Franco-German project, as the article says.


The initial design for the Next Generation Fighter (NGF) looks similar to the BAE Systems ‘Replica’. There’s an interesting graphic on this page which is worth looking at, plus a photo of the NGF taken by a drone from abovecomment image&hash=2ee76c95109c4b7128aedfe940a25777 It seems to me that a long range and a large internal weapons bay (to house long range missiles) are key design features, a conclusion that the designers of the Chengdu J-20 also decided on. (The exploratory concepts for the Tempest in the first illustration are interesting as well.)

Robert blay

Flying in 2026 😂 that’s a good one

Alan Reid

Hi Robert, Based on past experience – a demonstrator/test-bed might be possible within a few years. Do you remember the BAe EAP? (Typhoon forerunner) Project commenced 1983 – flew three years later, in fact, I saw it display at Farnborough that year. But I’m certainly not optimistic about a 2035 in-service date for a production “Tempest”. Again, based on past experience, from ditching Dassault in 1985 – the first flight of Typhoon was nine years later (1994). And it didn’t enter RAF service until 2003. If we ever do see an RAF “Tempest”, it may not be until 2040 at… Read more »

Robert blay

Hi Alan, yes, I agree that 2040 is a more realistic timeframe. Some of our Typhoons will still only be 21 years old in 2040. sure do remember the EAP, I had a poster of it on my bedroom wall 😄 along with the very beautiful Tornado F3.

Daniele Mandelli

I loved the F3. People were complaining it was not manoeuvrable, but that was never its role. Patrolling the UKADR was, against Soviet bombers.

Robert blay

Yeah in it’s final years it was very capable, with AMRAAM ASRAAM, link 16 and the very capable stage 3 foxhunter radar, and some very cunning tactics, it could hold its own against the very best. In red flag in 2009 it achieved a 12/1 kill ratio against F15C’s F16’s F18’s and F22’s. Top stuff.

Alan Reid

Hi Folks, I agree – I thought the F3 in air-superiority grey was a lovely looking bird! And “manoeuvring” is often over-rated in air combat – it’s said 80% of pilots shot-down never see the sneaky bad-guy who did it! What’s needed for success is good situational awareness, sparkling acceleration – and excellent rate of roll (to change direction quickly). Certainly, late-model Tornado F3s scored highly in the first two. I think it could still have done a job for the RAF today. At low level, it’s said the F3 was the fastest interceptor in the skies – it’s just… Read more »

Robert blay

Yeah, would loved to have seen a F3 with EJ200. More power at altitude was definitely near the top of any Tornado pilots wish list. And as you say, situational awareness is king, and the F3 had one of the best link 16 set ups of any western fighter. And certainly down low, its performance caught out many a careless ‘bad guy’. I’m just grateful todays Typhoon has all the performance and capability in spades.


long loiter time and a shed load of missiles….2 crew to divide the workload


Thanks for all the good info on the F3 gentlemen. I had always thought of it as a bit of a dog with a pretty nose!


No, as a long range interceptor it was fine. It was never going to be a dog-fighter, its wing loading was too high and its power to weight ratio was too low. The rationale behind the design was to intercept Russian maritime strike and bomber aircraft approaching us from Norway /Iceland’s direction. It carried initially four Skyflash medium semi-active RF homing missiles and two sidewinder infrared homing missiles. The later version carried four AMRAAM and four ASRAAMs, making a very potent arsenal. Thew aircraft’s Foxhunter radar was initially crap, but after sorting the cooling issues and a new processor became… Read more »

Alan Reid

In a realistic Cold War scenario: in the dead of night, low over the North Atlantic, in a snow storm, in the face of heavy ECM – as an interceptor, the F3 completely outclassed its American and French cousins, and at low level it was the fastest thing in the skies. And after the Cold War, as Robert writes above: with experienced aircrew, and good long-range tactics, it was still a dangerous adversary. A reported 12/1 kill ratio at Red Flag is impressive! It never got the opportunity to see air-combat, I think the closest was during Gulf War 1991,… Read more »

Alan Reid

We’re off the subject again, but on this forum, I guess some of us just love talking about the F3! 🙂

geoff may not be until 2040. At which point I will be 91!! 🙂

Daniele Mandelli

A mere slip of a lad…


Haha Daniele-and still doing 50 press-ups a day 🙂

Gavin Gordon

So that’s actually a real photo, Gandal… Daniele? I never knew!

Daniele Mandelli

Lol. Mithrander – “The Grey Pilgrim”

I like Tolkien. Was a genius.

Gavin Gordon

Off at a tangent though of some relevance here, I note that QE came back in the early hours today. I’d thought if she stayed out in UK waters for up to three weeks practicing day and night flying that would be a significant trials period. The fact that she also did a night return through Portsmouth harbour entrance further indicates a serious RN committment that I hadn’t anticipated.
Though, what does some nonentity Yank ‘military’ site make of that on U Tube? – ‘UK carrier slinks back into port after short trip’. W…..s

Gavin Gordon

Hang on, they seem oddball. Maybe Russian!

Daniele Mandelli

Well yes, the US know the British military is a peer regards professionalism. And many would say more so. So would seem strange.


A lot of delays to Typhoon where purely political though which drove up costs. If the UK is the clear lead with Italy and Sweden on board as industry partners there should be less of that nonsense going on. If they keep adding to the tranche 1 requirement it will never take off the ground but if they keep the design flexible for future upgrades 2035 is very achievable.

Alan Reid

Hi BB, Yes – there was a political delay from about 1992 after Volker Rühe became German Defence Minister. He needed to cut his budget after reunification. But there were also technical delays due to concerns over the flight control system. After a few proving flights in 1994, the Eurofighter programme was essentially on hold for at least a year while engineers sorted out the software code. And I suspect “Tempest” will have similar political, budgetary and technical complications. To me the numbers currently don’t stack-up, and I suspect they might need another big partner to make a production run… Read more »

Steve R

Japan is probably our best bet, then.

Glass Half Full

2026 may not be so impractical/impossible, but there’s certainly a large question as to whether rushing an airframe into the air is the best approach to modern fighter aircraft development and consequently whether a first flight date has any significance. This is particularly true when much of the value in a new aircraft will be driven by sensor fusion and operating within a network of assets, something that often gets overlooked when focusing only on the stealth attributes of F-35. Nigel links below to the Jane’s article which reiterates what was stated at the launch of the Tempest program, namely… Read more »

Alan Reid

Thanks, Glass Half-Full, I think you make some excellent points – and I like your “inside out” analogy for the development of a new combat jet.

John Clark

2026 to get wind under the wings of the Franco Bratwurst fighter is quite possible, but only if they leave the plastic mock-up out in a gale…..

Nigel Collins

Leonardo contracts Tempest large-body test aircraft.

“Neither Leonardo nor the MoD provided a contract value, but noted that the testbed aircraft will come into service in the early 2020s.”

Nigel Collins

Interesting stuff!

“Officials from Team Tempest later clarified that no commitment has yet been made to build a flying demonstrator in the near-term. “We could do some tests on existing platforms,” said BAE Systems air strategy director Michael Christie.”


Could tempest be nuclear stike capable?


New defence Secretary imminent as Cummings doesn’t like the Royal Navy – let’s see.

Steve Martin

Ben Wallace stays.

Daniele Mandelli

Rob. Where does he ever say that?

And Wallace has remained. And apparently Sunik might mean a loosening of the purse strings, in public services and maybe defence.

Lets see.


I think we will see an announcemen at some point re a second batch of T31. Boris will argue Global Britain post Brexit, job creation and cementing the union.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree Paul.


I did say imminent but was wrong. However I really do think that Mr Cummings has a problem with the RN. He sees it as out of date and the procurement out of control (I would agree with the latter). I’ve said it before and will say it again, if we are to be more dependent on overseas trade we should definitely invest in a larger escort fleet. Paul (below) suggests a second batch of T31, I wouldn’t disagree but seeing as the first unit won’t be in service until 2027 I would suggest that only a major investment in… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. We shall see.

In case you’e not aware Rob, I have long argued for the RN,RAF and Intelligence agencies to get priority, rather than the Army.
And the RN is top of that list for me.

So I think we agree there.


James Fennell

I think Boris wants to cut taxes and spend more to encourage a post-Brexit economic boom. That’s the beef between No. 10 and Javid. Treasury veto on the grounds that the budget won’t balance, which has been a thorn in the side of many a Premier during times of economic stagnation. The Treasury in the UK is much more powerful that your average Ministry of Finance in other nations – it can say no, because their is no money left, and no you can’t borrow any more Prime Minster because we are the economic experts not you – so they… Read more »


Dassault gets the best bit, quelle surprise

Gavin Gordon

None of this should be happening.
Contribution to a new euro fighter should be agreed by european partners with an identifiable need i.e. similar to the operation of ESA. This is just the EU (“we’re not trying to be a superstate just all friends together, honestly”) blindly wanting to prove it’s political top dog, even to the extent of spiting it’s own and others faces.
The EU nations have in the past and are still purchasing high USA content aircraft with no real issues. This is just a way to snub the UK. There are similarities with Galileo.


I don’t think it has anything to do with the EU. FCAS is a Franco-German project, which Spain has now joined. But Italy is partnering with the UK on Tempest, and there were suggestions Sweden might come on board as well – both EU countries.

Gavin Gordon

Then the ‘FCAS consortium’ could see sense, and partner with someone who could be of immeasurable technical benefit and significantly increase demand for aircraft numbers, Dan.


Well, people more in the know than me have already said that it is likely the two programmes will end up merging, for cost reasons if nothing else.

Gavin Gordon

Cheers. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Alan Reid

And Germany has a successful history of building advanced combat aircraft with the UK and Italy since the 1960s. A relationship forged over fifty years.
Whatever the politicians say, I doubt many folks at Munich are keen on a tie-up with the prima-donnas at Dassault!


you realise that if the UK continued the UCAV FCAS, France would never have joined with Germany (at least not for an other 10 years). But the UK didn’t even leave the projet, they just stoped talking and working.
Believe me the French reapers are a nightmare because they need the US’s agreement on everything (and yet it seems to be better then the RPAS… with German crazy request with 2 engines).


Looks like a cross between the F-22 and F-23.


Looks cool! Bit better than the Tempest model IMO.


Not sure winning beauty prizes are the emphasis on either project here though if it were then to me Tempest looks fantastic. That said its just a holding model used to focus attention and that means it may not even look much like we see now anyway.


What a surprise. Airbus and Dassault, the EU’s favourites, are given more lucrative work by the two untouchable European countries. Pathetic


SCAF has nothing to do with the EU. It is a Franco-German project. MTU and Safran are also involved in development. Spain has recently joined, but they will not be involved until later with Indra doing some work. France and Germany decided to start the project together and not involve others until the concept/requirement were finalized. Avoiding having too many chefs in the kitchen. After many discussions, they have agreed on workshare and resolved potential export issues last year. Dassault will lead on the NGF fighter aspect while Airbus will take the lead on the wingman concept and network systems.… Read more »


So, despite the false news about France, the so called UK is in a mess and continues it’s downward spiral The little Englanders on this site are a reall laugh. The UK is dead. Face up to that and move on.

Steve Martin

I bet you’re fun at parties.

Mark B

Woke up this morning and all was well with the world. Mike has put me right. We are clearly a basket case.

Dave Wolfy

Says the ten year old.


The UK will outlive you, Boy.

Alan Reid

Is he back !?! You know, he’s so predictable that I’m strangely beginning to warm to him! Funny, he doesn’t seem to realise this site is hosted from Glasgow, and has a lot of Scottish contributors! So much for “Little Englanders” – whatever that actually means!

Barry Larking

“The UK is dead. Face up to that and move on.” – Mike.

Mike, I have read that sentiment every decade for the past sixty years. Had I learned to read from the cradle, longer. Cheerio and best wishes. You need them.

Meirion X

Missing A Brain Cell, or Two!


You would have thought that by the 2040s we will be looking at 7th generation fighters whatever they will be…

Mark B

We’ve started work on the 9th Gen fighters which can travel back through time – so that should sort the problem. Sorry can’t take too much seriously on a Friday afternoon!

Barry Larking

I presume the engine and much of the electronics will be built on licence from the U.S.A. as usual?


No it will be ITAR free so no US components. FYI MTU and Safran are making the engine.

Barry Larking

Thank you M’Lud. I presume these companies have many years experience in designing and manufacturing indigenous advanced technology engines of which I am unaware. I shall have do more research.


As normal, when they talk about “European” they mean France and Germany. the other 45 council of europe nations just do not count. But I’m sure the other EU25 will be expected to buy FCAS.

Even their partner Spain is relegated to a do as I say role. Perhaps they’re second rate Europeans?

Same thing for European solidarity – buy Franco- German products or there won’t be any.


Lol. It is not a EU project, it is Franco German led program (spain is a partner but will not be lead on any aspect). Other EU countries will not be forced to buy it since they are sovereign, regardless what brexit lies say. Were EU countries forced to buy Typhoon? Furthermore, not many EU countries will be interested since many have just or in process of updating their fleets (Nor, NL, Bel, Ita, Pol have all selected F35 for next 40 to 50 years, Finland and Switzerland are currently in the process of replacing their fleet) That basically leaves… Read more »


Well … look at the situation today.
the Eurofighter was sold in a single UE country outside the producers and it’s not a nato country Austria for just 15 unites, the rafale none.
So much for a “buy European act”, no the Europeans have put in place a “buy American act”. So no worries the NGF nor tempest will be sold in Europe (outside their domestic market).


On the basis the Germans tried continually to cancel or drastically reduce the Typhoons capabilities and it was an endless political struggle to keep them onboard. I would say the French will have a fight on their hands to develop this project.
The Germans are hard pushed to adequately fund their current defence let alone develop a 6th Gen jet.