New challenges call for new responses. When it comes to the protection of the German and European airspace, the solution is a system made up of manned and unmanned flight vehicles, dubbed the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) – this is the working title of the new fighter aircraft program – will be an essential part of such an FCAS. The NGWS is expected to be available for entry into service by 2040. 

A project of this magnitude can only be undertaken in multinational partnership on a European level. This is why as early as in mid-2017, France and Germany decided to go forward with the joint development of the new combat aircraft. Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the programme’s so called Joint Concept Study. In February 2020, the FCAS programme entered into another decisive phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase. Other European nations such as Spain will join and contribute their expertise.

The requirements a next-generation fighter aircraft will have to fulfil have been clearly outlined: They include improved survivability, maximum range, and high mission flexibility. Add to this high availability, long operating times, and predictable life-cycle costs that are as low as possible, plus a low radar signature, high connectivity, information dominance, as well as protection against cyberattacks and electromagnetic effects.