Right from the start, Diehl Aerospace has been involved in the two-year concept phase (Joint Concept Study) for the development of the European FCAS (Future Combat Air System). The aim of the project initiated by Germany and France – which Spain has since joined as a further partner - is to develop a New Generation Weapon System (NGWS) by 2040. In Germany, this system is to be gradually expanded into a global air-based defence system and replace the Eurofighter fleet later. This guarantees the sovereignty of Europe in foreign policy and military matters.
The development of the new air combat system requires several years of preparation before the actual development phase can begin in 2028. In the first phase of the concept study, the operational requirements for the new weapon system are defined and the technology gaps and the necessary technology demonstrators are identified. Diehl Aerospace has been involved in the study right from the start and has already made important contributions in various technology domains. At the beginning of 2020, the demonstration phase was launched. It is expected to last until 2026. The first flight tests of the Next Generation Fighter should then take place. With its expertise, especially in the avionics sector, and its proven experience in international cooperation, Diehl Aerospace will play a major role in this decisive phase.
With Diehl Aerospace into the Next Programme Phase
The next step will be to bring the required technologies to a sufficient level of maturity before the development and construction of the first demonstrators can begin. In addition to the two system leaders, Dassault and Airbus Defence & Space, Diehl should also play a crucial role here: "In the first partial phase, we have already made many important contributions to various national technology studies. Now we want to contribute our globally recognised expertise in the field of avionics to the joint project in the further phases of the project,” reports Frédéric Migot, Head of Military Programmes at Diehl Aerospace.
Greatest Expertise in Avionics
Diehl Aerospace is a German first tier supplier for avionics. The company has the required experience in developing and implementing national and international technology projects. For many years, the innovation leader has invested enormous amounts of time and money in research and development and has established itself as the largest and leading supplier of avionics systems in Germany. The company thus has great expertise in civil and military projects, inter alia, in the fields of cockpit avionics, flight control, integrated modular avionics and utility systems.
Ability to Cooperate at an International Level
Germany, France and Spain have emphasized that they want to develop the technologies required for FCAS/NGWS together and based on the geo-return principle. Firstly, this requires a strong German aerospace and defence industry, but also the readiness and ability to successfully implement cooperative projects.
Diehl Aerospace has demonstrated its international cooperation capability in numerous Franco-German and international projects, partnerships and programmes. For example, in the military segment, the company worked with European partners including its joint venture share-holder Thales, inter alia, on the development and series production of avionics and equipment systems for the Airbus A400M, Tornado, Eurofighter, NH90 and Tiger.
"We have repeatedly confirmed our European and international ability to cooperate with numerous alliance partners and in the most diverse constellations. We are able to cooperate far beyond national borders at any time. We have proven this not only at Airbus, where we have been working together successfully and pooling our expertise since the first A300 program," Frédéric Migot stresses. Already existing collaborations with French partners can be further expanded for FCAS.
Securing European Sovereignty
FCAS is the most modern and complex defence programme in Europe for the coming decades. This is a network of existing and future weapon systems, manned combat aircraft and unmanned systems such as drones and satellites. Unlike individual specific weapon systems, FCAS can be deployed in a wide variety of situations and scenarios. This will strategically secure the future security and defence policy sovereignty of Europe in the long term. Diehl can make an important technological contribution to this, for example to the development of NGWS – but also for the further development of the EUROFIGHTER, the remote carriers as well as for the implementation of the networked system of systems.
Diehl Aviation: The Sector's Innovation Driver
Diehl is already one of the world's leading research and development companies for aircraft systems and cabin solutions. The company has permanently increased its investments in research and development. Today, Diehl has not only extensive experience in the implementation of national research and development projects and international funding programmes. "By now, we have also become one of the sector's innovation drivers. This has enabled us to become the largest equipment supplier and supplier of avionics systems in Germany," says Frédéric Migot. Diehl is leading in the areas of flight control, integrated modular avionics, cockpit display systems as well as mission and platform avionics.
Cutting-Edge Technology as Locational Advantage
The participating companies will not be the only ones benefiting from the targeted integration of German cutting-edge technology into the FCAS program. FCAS will at the same time increase German and European technology expertise. This in turn will have a positive effect on the national and European value-creation chain and thus on the economic development of the aerospace and high technology sector. "We have the ambition to take over this role as avionics lead, to develop technologies, deliver products and also to define their specifications. The high demands on the FCAS system as a whole can thus be met," Frédéric Migot is sure.