Belgium Announces Joining Franco-German FCAS Project

Belgium expected to join the next-gen fighter program in June 2025
  • Bureau
  • 08:31 AM, November 29, 2023
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Belgium Announces Joining Franco-German FCAS Project
Next Generation Fighter component of the FCAS ??at Paris Air Show, 2019. @via open sources

Belgium has confirmed its commitment to the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a joint project by Dassault Aviation, Airbus, Indra Sistemas, and Thales Group to develop a new generation fighter.

The Minister of Defense, Ludivine Dedonder, confirmed Belgium's involvement in the European FCAS program in a recent LinkedIn post. “The development of a next-generation air combat capability is a unique opportunity for Europe. In doing so, Belgium is committed to peace, stability and innovation in defence, building together a secure and prosperous future for our nation and our partners,” she said.

In December 2023, Belgium is set to sign an observer agreement, marking a significant step toward global security and innovation. The formal integration into the Next Generation Weapon System / FCAS program is scheduled for June 2025.

Specific details about Belgium's role as a permanent partner in the program remain undisclosed. It is anticipated that the country will join during the second phase, given its current participation in phase 1B.

Belgium Announces Joining Franco-German FCAS Project
Rendering of the European 6th generation FCAS fighter @Airbus

Earlier reports indicated Belgium's interest in joining FCAS in June, leading to opposition from the French company Dassault. Dassault CEO Eric Trappier expressed dissatisfaction with Belgium's decision to opt for American F-35 fighters over French Rafales. "I heard about the interest of the Belgians [in FCAS]. This is all very well. I see no point in bringing more countries into the F-35 program. Why should I free up space in my factory, in my design bureau, for people who chose the F-35," he said.

Despite this opposition, Trappier stated that European countries could participate in the program as observers.

The FCAS program has a vision of creating a comprehensive system, including the Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS) and other air assets for future operational battlespaces. The NGWS components will include remote carrier vehicles (swarming drones) and a New Generation Fighter (NGF), anticipated to be a sixth-generation jet fighter. This NGF is expected to replace current aircraft like France's Rafales, Germany's Typhoons, and Spain's EF-18 Hornets by around 2040.

This project was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron and then by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017.

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