The contract was officially awarded to Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, and Ian King, CEO of BAE Systems, by the heads of the French and British defence procurement agencies, Laurent Collet-Billon, Délégué Général pour l’Armement for the French DGA, and Bernard Gray, Chief of Defence Materiel for the UK MoD, during a ceremony at Dassault Aviation’s headquarters, Saint Cloud, France.
Eric Trappier said: “We welcome this new step, which prepares the future of both manned and unmanned combat air systems. It ensures French and British companies to maintain their technological excellence which is vital to their competitiveness in a globalized environment. It mainly shows the commitment of France and Britain in their ambition to remain leading aviation powers”.
Ian King said: “This contract award is a key step in the partnership between our two nations, governments, and industries. The Feasibility Phase will allow UK and French industry to work closely together and provide a strong foundation for a potential follow-on Future Combat Air System Demonstration programme as well as supporting a number of highly skilled jobs.”
Cooperation between France and the UK is seen as the optimum way to progress a UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) solution, whilst supporting both governments’ intentions for closer defence ties. The joint study contract of €150m/£120m is to be supplemented with additional French and UK national funding to the combined value of €100m/£80m in the same period.
The two-year study will build the foundations on which a long-term joint programme will be based by focusing on the following key points:
- The development of concepts for an operational system, and
- The maturation of key technologies that will be required for a future operational UCAS.
Following the completion of the study at the end of 2016, work could then commence on a UCAS demonstration development programme that addresses both nations’ future military requirements.
The Feasibility Phase will sustain hundreds of highly skilled jobs at Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems with more jobs sustained by Rolls-Royce, Selex ES, Snecma (Safran), Thales and SME's involved in the programme. In addition, the contract supports the strategically important Military Aerospace Industries in both nations and is testament to the importance that the French and UK governments place in maintaining a cutting edge, sovereign military air capability.