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United Kingdom/UCAVs

Published on November 6, 2014
Communiqué issued by the Defence Ministry
Paris, November 5, 2014

The DGA and its British counterpart (DE&S) launch industrial studies into the future Franco-British UCAV

On 5 November 2014, the Délégué Général pour l’Armement, Laurent Collet-Billon, and his British counterpart, the Chief of Defence Materiel, Bernard Gray, presided over the industrial launch of the future Franco-British UCAV [Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle] programme (FCAS – Future Combat Air System). They officially awarded study contracts for the FCAS feasibility phase to the project’s industrial partners (Dassault Aviation with BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce with Safran, and Selex ES with Thales).

The signature of these FCAS contracts is a new success for Franco-British cooperation, which since 2010 has benefited from the momentum created by the Lancaster House treaties. It follows the commitment made at the Franco-British summit in Brize Norton in January 2014 between President François Hollande and Prime Minister David Cameron, and the intergovernmental agreement signed by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his British counterpart at the Farnborough Airshow in July 2014. It follows a two-year preparatory phase bringing together, for this ambitious project, Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems as systems integrators, Thales and Selex ES for onboard electronics and sensors, and Safran and Rolls Royce for propulsion.

The joint commitment, amounting to £120 million (€150 million), is divided equally between the partners and complemented by national studies conducted in parallel, at a total cost of some £40 million (€50 million) per country. This two-year joint feasibility phase, which begins today, will focus especially on UCAV architecture, on certain key technologies and on the definition of simulation tools for validating technical choices and operational concepts. France and the UK will also put the experience gained in the field of UCAVs to good use with the nEUROn and Taranis technology demonstrators, run by Dassault Aviation and BAE systems respectively.

The feasibility phase paves the way for the development and implementation of a UCAV demonstrator scheduled for the beginning of 2017. The FCAS project is key to the future of our aerospace industry in the field of combat aircraft./.

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