With Rafale F5, does France still need the FCAS?

Le Rafale F5 now has priority over FCAS! This is essentially the statement made by Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, during his passage on the French economic news channel BFM Business.

For the manager, the means are today focused on the objective of bringing out the new standard of Rafale for 2030, then the drones that will accompany it, while the FCAS program aims for a more distant timetable.

In a more diplomatic way than usual, Eric Trappier also, during this interview, renewed his concerns about the future of the combat aircraft program which brings together France, Germany and Spain.

A future still unclear for the FCAS program

Indeed, if the tasks and the industrial sharing is relatively well defined with regard to the study phase 1B preceding the design of the demonstrator until 2027, the vagueness remains beyond.

lecornu robles Pistorius FCAS 1B e1683031737378 Fighters aircrafts | Defense Analysis | Military aircraft construction
It took the joint intervention of the three French, Spanish and German Defense Ministers to get the FCAS program out of the rut it had been in for a year.

Clearly, Dassault Aviation fears a new standoff with Airbus DS around the piloting of the NGF (Next Generation Fighter), the combat fighter and first pillar of the program, already at the origin of the strong tensions which had brought the program to the on the brink of implosion just two years ago, until the ministers in charge of the three countries took control of it.

The fact is, Eric Trappier's concerns are well founded. Not only is nothing really set in stone beyond phase 1B, but another program could shatter the fragile balance around the FCAS program.

The links between the FCAS and MGCS programs

Indeed, at the same time, the other Franco-German defense program, MGCS, is today the subject of a major showdown between Paris and Berlin, again on the subject of industrial sharing.

MGCS Konzept 130 mm Turm ohne BEsatzung 211361 1 Rheinmetall Fighters aircrafts | Defense Analysis | Military aircraft construction
The MGCS and FCAS programs are politically linked, and the failure of one may well lead to the failure of the other.

Above all, France intends to impose, during the next meeting between ministers Sébastien Lecornu and Boris Pistorius, at the end of September, the arrival of Italy in the program, so as to force a salutary rebalancing of the program . However, this does not seem to be to the taste of Berlin, and in particular of its two industrialists.

However, for Berlin, or rather for the Bundestag, the two programs MGCS and FCAS are linked, particularly with regard to the sharing of responsibilities and industrial management: Germany manages MGCS, France manages FCAS, even if it is otherwise contested by Airbus DS.

In short, if MGCS were to fall in the weeks or months to come, the chances are high that the FCAS program will do the same. This, Eric Trappier, like Sébastien Lecornu, know perfectly well.

The ambitions of Rafale F5 revised upwards by the new LPM

This is precisely where the F5 standard of the Rafale. Indeed, without being officially presented as an alternative to the FCAS, this new standard was, on the occasion of the new Military Programming Law, adorned with such attributes that it could undoubtedly claim to be such.

RAFALE F4 e1641823636618 Fighter aircraft | Defense Analysis | Military aircraft construction
The F4 version of Rafale will soon begin to arrive in the French Armies

To the point that today we can wonder if, in the present context, France still needs the FCAS with the upcoming arrival of the Rafale F5?


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3 Comments

    • hello, wise article and which sheds new light on France's needs in terms of armaments. if we follow through with the process rafale 5 instead of scaf, why make an aircraft carrier so large when we could make 2 if the rafale 5 was made in a navy version?
      there are a lot of questions to ask about this...
      jean

  1. There is also talk of a Rafale F5 re-engined, which would imply an evolution of the airframe (like those operated between the F18 Hornet and the F18 SuperHornet or like between the Gripen E/F and previous generations).
    Is it still the same plane in this case?
    And what about development costs?

    But if the evolution of the cell and the new motorization make it possible to greatly increase electricity production, to have more choices for the arrangement of new sensors, would this not ultimately be the right solution?

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