The Bundestag Budget Committee is to vote on the €32.5 million for the initial funding need to formally launch the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program alongside France, Der Spigel reported.
The vote, set to take place on Wednesday is to allow for the funding to be released, itself a precondition for the official award of the concept study contracts. These contracts are expected to be signed at the Paris Air Show which starts on the 17 June. Dassault Aviation and Airbus Defence and Space are going to get the contracts for the design of the aircraft itself (known as Next Generation Fighter (NGF)), with Safran and MTU Aero Engines set to get contracts for the design of the NGF’s engines.
According to reports from the Der Spigel, who saw finance ministry reports the total development cost of the program is expected to be around €8 billion however this doesn’t actually include any of the production aircraft, or the equipment needed to operate its networked environment.
A pressing issue of late has been related to the exportability of the aircraft. Germany is known to have very strict arms control regimes in place whereas France wants to be able to sell the aircraft world wide. Multiple German political parties are against the unrestricted sale of the aircraft whereas France, with its long standing history of exporting aircraft to questionable nations feels that it needs to export the aircraft in order to ensure its status as a leading aircraft.
Germany and France are also currently cooperating on a range of other programs, including a new main battle tank and a new maritime patrol aircraft yet FCAS seems to be the headline piece that is being pushed by both governments trying to show European cooperation on a scale not seen before.
It is also expected that at the Paris Air Show Spain will formally join the program, with them having announced their intention some time ago. Belgium is also thought to be interested however the French may veto their involvement due to them having ordered the American F-35 swing-role fighter.
Nick Ashwell-Rice has worked in aviation and defence journalism since 2014 whilst also maintaining a career outside of the industry. He has been Editor-in-Chief at Talking Aero since its inception