PARIS — Underway in Europe are two high-profile sixth-generation aircraft efforts: the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System, and Britain’s Tempest fighter. But will they converge? Defense News asked the chief executive of the European Defence Agency, Jorge Domecq, for his take on the future of these programs.
It’s quite possible the FCAS program by Spain, Germany and France and the British Tempest program will lead to a situation of two fighters. What’s your assessment?
We’ll have to see, but FCAS is not going to be just one platform. It’s going to be a system of systems. It will be a very complex program; it will take many years. It will be very important for it to be sustainable, that it has the economies of scale that are necessary. And at the same time, as we have these three initial member states signing up, I do not exclude this would bring on other member states as we go long.
What will happen with the Tempest project, I cannot say.
But as the person that oversees FCAS, you would like to see some convergence, right?
Europe would probably have to see convergence toward having a single system of systems, but as I underlined, it’s not an issue of platform. As always, thinking of the competitiveness of the European defense industry, we have to think of program sustainability. Is the next generation of combat aircraft sustainable with several systems of systems in Europe? I have my doubts.
Speaking of consolidation, there have been calls to consolidate the defense industry. What is the level of urgency for that?
I think the urgency is there. In the next five to 10 years, the defense industry is going to know a real evolution of technology; disruptive technologies are going to change how we do business in defense. That is going to have an impact on the defense industry.
The only way forward for defense in general is cooperation. Cooperation is the only way Europe will remain a credible partner in operational terms but also in technology-related industrial terms.
That requires we pull together to do as many defense cooperation projects in the future. And the consolidation of the industry will happen around those cooperative endeavors.
Sebastian Sprenger is Europe editor for Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multinational investments in defense and global security. He previously served as managing editor for Defense News.