European and company officials meet for the signing of the FCAS industrial agreement on June 17. (Dassault Aviation Photo)

PARIS AIR SHOWDassault Aviation unveiled a mock up of the Future Combat Air System on June 17 here, as government and company officials signed an FCAS Industry Agreement on Demonstrator Programs.

The latter accord covers the main components of FCAS: a new generation, manned fighter; support “remote carrier” drones; and an Air Combat Cloud to integrate sensors.

On June 17, Spain also officially joined Germany and France as a partner in the FCAS program.

While the United States Air Force and Navy are developing designs for sixth-generation fighters, Dassault has avoided the term, as the company says it solely refers to U.S. fighter programs. Dassault has said its Rafale fighter is comparable to a U.S. fourth or fifth generation fighter, such as the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 Lightning. FCAS is to replace the Rafale and the Airbus/BAE Systems/Leonardo-built Eurofighter.

On hand for the signing of the industrial agreement were Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier, Airbus Defense and Space CEO Dirk Hoke, French President Emmanuel Macron, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, German Federal Minister of Defense Ursula Von Der Leven, and Spanish Minister of Defense Margarita Robles.

At the signing, Macron made a pitch for German-French-Spanish cooperation with the British, which are developing their own sixth generation fighter through the BAE Systems Tempest program.

“Competition among Europeans when it weakens us against the Americans and the Chinese is ridiculous,” Macron told reporters when asked about FCAS and Tempest.

The FCAS demonstrator phase is to run between this year and mid-2021 with an aim to completing first flight and operational capability of the manned FCAS, drones and Air Combat Cloud by 2026. FCAS is envisioned as entering European defense forces by 2040. Other companies involved in FCAS include MBDA Systems, Thales, Safran and MTU. The latter two companies are developing the manned FCAS engine.

Trappier said that FCAS “will shape Europe’s most decisive military air combat program for the decades to come and turn out a strong move in constructing Europe’s sovereignty.”

Dassault Aviation and Airbus said that they expect a contract award for the FCAS demonstration phase by the fourth quarter of this year.