The future of the 6th Generation Fighter is now as several firms in the West have already begun (or will soon begin) a series of studies to flesh out requirements for an all new design. For Dassault of France, joined by defense powerhouse Airbus, the study is the "Future Combat Air System" (FCAS) to be drawn up sometime in early 2019. The aircraft will be a concept study to lay the ground work for a potential future fighter built atop the framework of existing, as well as all-new, systems and weapons.
The French duo are set to be joined by Spain which has expressed interest in becoming a part of the FCAS program going forwards.
At this early stage, the FCAS concept provided by Dassault features a twin, side-by-side engine arrangement for maximum survivability in contested airspaces. The engines will be a joint-French/German development offered by Safran/MTU (respectively) offering upwards of 30,000lb of thrust each unit with afterburner capability - giving the aircraft access to the supersonic speed envelope. The Next Generation (NG) fighter will also sport smooth contours as well as hard edges all the while promoting "stealth" through special body coatings and special body shaping. The wing mainplanes would feature sharp lines and be of a pseudo-delta configuration - negating the use of horizontal tailplanes while contouring well to the established form of the fuselage. Square intakes are to aspirate the engine pairing and are set to either side of the fuselage in the typical fashion. To all this will be added a high degree of maneuverability for close-in encounters. Unlike other future-minded unmanned combat platform concepts, the Dassault approach will keep the human pilot in the equation in a single-seat, all-digital highly-automatic cockpit environment.
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February 2019 - Airbus and Dassault of France have both been given a two-year contract to jointly develop a concept study around the FCAS initiative. MTU and Safran are in line to develop the powerplant required for the program.
February 2019 - As expected, the nation of Spain has thrown its hat into the French-German FCAS development program. A Letter-of-Intent (LoI) was signed by the Spanish Minister of Defence on February 14th, 2019.
June 2019 - At Paris Air Show 2019, the French Ministry of Defense demonstrated, via video, the proposed mission scope of the new, Next-Generation Fighter platform. In the presentation, the FCAS was shown working in conjunction with existing French and European aircraft platforms and warships, such as the Airbus A400M Atlas and Eurofighter Typhoon, assaulting a fortified enemy base.
June 2019 - A full-scale mockup of the Dassault-Airbus FCAS was unveiled at Paris Air Show 2019.
February 2020 - Initial contracts related to "Phase 1A" of the European FCAS program have been announced by Germany and France. Work will begin on the demonstrator airframe (Dassault/Airbus, France)), engine (Dassault, France), and combat network (Airbus, France). Spain will make up part of the Phase 1B initiative still to come.
February 2020 - For its part, Spain has introduced the first round of local industry participants in the European FCAS program.
July 2020 - Spain was introduced as the third formal major partner in the Dassault FCAS program.
Dassault / Airbus - France; Germany; Spain Manufacturer(s)
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