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France, Germany sign LOIs on future programmes
Luftwaffe Typhoon. © Eurofighter - Geoffrey Lee

France, Germany sign LOIs on future programmes

Paris and Berlin have signed two Letters of Intent on the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) and the Next Generation Weapon System within a Future Combat Air System.

French armed forces minister Florence Parly and her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, have signed two Letters of Intent on the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) and the Next Generation Weapon System within a Future Combat Air System (FCAS), sometimes referred to by its French acronym SCAF, for Système de Combat Aérien du Futur.

Confusingly, the entirely separate UK-French combat drone programme -- now on the back burner -- is also known as the Future Combat Air System. Dassault is the French partner in both programmes.

The LOIs are seen by Paris and Berlin as a concrete step towards joint development of future weapon systems and to forging Europe’s defence identity. They signal Franco-German support for the development of the European defence industrial base, in order to secure European sovereignty, and for the growth of the defence industry, by offering opportunities for exports, production, research and innovation.

France is identified as the lead nation on FCAS/SCAF. This programme will bring together a new multi-purpose combat aircraft, adapted to contemporary air threats and exploiting the potential of artificial intelligence, with network-based combat capabilities, including unmanned platforms.

The system is slated to complement and ultimately replace the current generation or Eurofighter and Rafale combat aircraft in the 2040 timeframe.

The Letter of Intent sets the goal of launching a study phase by the end of 2018. In this phase, work on the overall architecture will be accompanied by the rapid launch of technology demonstrations to explore the concepts to be retained for the future operational system.

Other partners, especially European nations, are invited to join in the project.

The future battle tank will be fully integrated with the Scorpion program in France and the HEER system in Germany, MGCS aims to be the benchmark in ground combat systems when it is deployed in 2035. Germany is the lead nation on this project.

The two countries also agreed to launch the Franco-German CSO3 military satellite on Ariane 6.

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