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Indra and Thales will lead the development of an innovative suite of sensors that will equip the Next Generation Weapon System/The Future Combat Air System (NGWS/FCAS) programme. The French Armament General Directorate (DGA), on behalf of the partner nations, has signed the contract with Indra as leader of the industrial consortium in order to incorporate the Sensors as part of the Phase 1 contractual framework. The Phase 1 A Concept Study for Sensors will last for one year, a period which may be extended by another six months.

The consortium will work on the design of the concepts required to meet the stakes of 2040 and beyond for FCAS, involving a connected and distributed architecture of sensors, the design of future sensor architectures and the maturation of the associated sensor technologies. This distributed sensor architecture will leverage the capabilities provided by the NGWS/FCAS combat cloud, with improved system situational awareness and increased platforms survivability. The sensors pillar consortium looks forward to working together with the other NGWS/FCAS pillars (Combat Cloud, Next Generation Fighter, Remote Carriers) in order to optimise the design and integration of the Sensors within the System and platforms.

Future Innovative FCAS Sensors

Early this year, the governments of France and Germany awarded Dassault Aviation, Airbus, together with their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launches the demonstrator phase for the FCAS. This covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.

Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the programme’s so called Joint Concept Study. Now, the FCAS programme enters into another decisive phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase.

The launch of the Demonstrator Phase underlines the political confidence and determination of the FCAS partner nations and the associated industry to move forward and cooperate in a fair and balanced manner. The increased momentum enables industry to deploy the necessary resources and best capabilities to develop this decisive European defence project. FCAS will be the cornerstone project guaranteeing Europe’s future operational, industrial and technological sovereignty. The next important step in the FCAS programme will be the inclusion of Spain and the involvement of additional suppliers from Phase 1B onwards, which will succeed Phase 1A after its successful conclusion.

J C Menon