How could a light fighter program preserve the French military and industrial potential?

France is today engaged in a European program, alongside Germany and Spain, aimed at designing and building an air combat system of the future, or SCAF, intended to replace the Rafale and Typhoon of the air forces. of the 3 countries, from 2040. In the meantime, this same program will produce technologies that will be used as technological bricks to modernize the Rafale and Typhoon fighter jets, so as to keep them at the level of the operational and technological challenges of the future. By proceeding in this way, the authorities will be able to share the development costs of the device and the constituent technologies, and produce a higher volume of systems so as to reach productivity thresholds allowing the costs of manufacturing and using the devices to be lowered. hunting fleets of the 3 countries.

The limits of the SCAF program

But the program SCAF is not free from defects, and a negative effect, in particular vis-à-vis the French Defense Technological Industrial Base, the only one, among the 3 member countries of the program, to have today the capacity to complete the program in its entirety. In fact, the sharing of investments naturally leads to an industrial sharing between 3 countries, so as to distribute the generated budget returns. In fact, part of the French defense industry will be excluded from projects that are essential to maintaining skills and know-how often acquired with great effort and investment over the years.

The SCAF Next Generation Fighter (NGF) will be an imposing aircraft, as seen on this 1: 1 scale model presented at the 2019 Paris Air Show

In addition, the SCAF is designed around a heavy aircraft, the NGF, whose 1: 1 scale model presented at the Paris Air Show suggests an aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight around or above 30 tonnes, with priced accordingly. However, the French air forces, like many strong European air forces, are struggling to finance a fleet of heavy aircraft with sufficient volume, or quite simply to acquire such expensive aircraft. As such, it should be remembered that the best-selling device in Europe and in the world in 2019 remains the F16V Viper ...

In fact, would it be possible for France to develop a second program, parallel to the SCAF, to design a single-engine aircraft of the Mirage 2000 class, having the attributes of the 5th generation, to strengthen the national air forces, preserve and extend the know-how of the BITD, and extend the French international offer? and if so, how to finance it?

A 5th generation French light hunter


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