The £120 million contract will see BAE and Dassault Aviation prepare a co-operative Future Combat Air System Feasibility Phase study, which 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.
“We welcome this new step, which prepares the future of both manned and unmanned combat air systems. It ensures French and British companies maintain their technological excellence which is vital to competitiveness in a globalised environment, and shows the commitment of France and Britain to remain leading aviation powers,” said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.
“This contract award is a key step in the partnership between our two nations, governments, and industries,” said BAE Systems CEO Ian King.
This cooperation between the UK and France – which comes after the political agreement announced at the Farnborough Air Show in July this year – is part of a broader plan designed to strengthen the defensive ties between the two countries and is seen as the optimum way to progress a UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) solution.
According to the media release issued by BAE Systems, the joint two-year study contract of £120 million is to be supplemented with additional UK and French national funding to the combined value of £80 million / €100 million in the same period.
It will build the foundations on which a long-term joint programme will be based by focusing on the development of concepts for an operational system and the maturation of key technologies that will be required for a future operational UCAS.
The completion of the study at the end of 2016 will be followed by a UCAS demonstration development programme that addresses both nations’ future military requirements.
The multimillion contract is expected to sustain hundreds of highly skilled jobs at both Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems, as well as at a number of other companies involved in the programme, including Rolls-Royce, Seles ES, Snecma (Safran), Thales and others.