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Airbus DS defining FCAS aircraft requirements with Bundeswehr


Mar 6, 2013
United Kingdom
Airbus Defence and Space (DS) is currently working with the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) to identify future threats and capability needs to inform its work on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a senior company official told reporters on 20 June.

An illustrative rendition of what the FCAS might look like. Airbus is currently working with the German government to define future requirements and threats as it looks to refine its concept for the platform. (Airbus DS)

Speaking at the company's Ottobrun facility near Munich, Alberto Gutierrez, head of the Eurofighter programme, said that Airbus DS and the Bundeswehr are looking at expected operational requirements and the latest technologies that will be available in the 2030-40 timeframe that the FCAS is expected to enter into service.

The FCAS project to replace the German Air Force's Panavia Tornado and to complement the Eurofighter Typhoon manned combat aircraft was first revealed in the Air Capability Strategy Paper released by the German government in January. No details were released at that time, except that the platform might be manned, unmanned, or optionally manned.

Dubbed the Next-Generation Weapon System by Airbus DS, the FCAS will likely be "a system of systems" according to Gutierrez. Given the aircraft's relatively near-term entry-into-service date of between 2030 and 2040, he noted that unmanned technologies will probably not be sufficiently advanced by that time for it to be a completely unmanned solution.

"The German government asked Airbus to consider alternatives for a Tornado replacement that will be complementary with the Eurofighter. In principle, it could be a system of systems - either a manned and unmanned combination. [We have determined that unmanned combat air vehicles] UCAVs will not be at technology state ready by 2030-40 to support Eurofighters. It could be optionally manned, with two crew - one for command and control [and one pilot]," he said.

Gutierrez noted that the tight timelines and the need to keep costs at a minimum means that Airbus DS is looking at incorporating existing technologies and programme structures and partnerships into the project.

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