Europe's sixth generation fighter jet takes major step forward


The French, German and Spanish governments have agreed the next phase of the jointly-developed Future Combat Air System.

The new terms say the first flight of a next generation fighter jet demonstrator will take place by the end of 2027.

Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces of France, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister of Defense of Germany, and Margarita Robles, Minister of Defense of Spain made the official announcement yesterday.

The statement says the FCAS programme directly contributes to the strengthening of sovereignty and the security of the partner nations and Europe.

The FCAS will consist of a Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS), which includes a sixth generation fighter jet (New Generation fighter or NGF), swarming drones and a combat cloud designed to ensure information superiority.

This platform will eventually replace current French Rafales, German Typhoons and Spanish EF-18 Hornets.

In April, a joint venture was formed for the development of the fighter jet's engine, which includes Safran Aircraft Engines and MTU Aero Engines.

The new entity, called EUMET (European Military Engine Team), will be based in Munich and will be headed by a Safran-nominated CEO.

EUMET will oversee the development, production and support of the engine to power New Generation Fighter. The joint venture will be the sole contract partner for the participating nations in the engine programme.

Safran Aircraft Engines and MTU Aero Engines will work with Spanish company ITP Aero as a main partner to EUMET.

Through EUMET, the partners will be developing the technology and demonstrators for a best-in-class engine that will meet the evolving needs of European armed forces.

It was previously announced in February last year the key partners on the FCAS programme. This includes:

  • New Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of FCAS

  • Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner

  • Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as main partner

  • Engine with Safran and MTU as main partner
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