Airbus, Thales Join Forces to Develop FCAS Air Combat Cloud

Airbus and Thales have signed an agreement for the development of the Air Combat Cloud which will enable the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) system of systems.

The agreement came after last week’s awarding of the FCAS Phase 1A Demonstrators contract. Under this agreement, Airbus and Thales will work jointly on the structural design of the Air Combat Cloud to support collaborative air operations at national and multinational levels and will perform the first phase of technology demonstrations of air combat cloud capabilities. This agreement supports the Air Combat Cloud pillar of the Demonstrator Phase 1A covering the next 18 month period and will serve as a starting point for demonstrators and technology development.

Signature by D. Hoke and Thales CEO Patrice Caine
Signature by D. Hoke and Thales CEO Patrice Caine. Airbus Photo.

FCAS will deliver increased operational effects by leveraging the collaborative capabilities of connected manned and unmanned platforms, bringing the next level of Air Power to denied environments. Within FCAS, the Air Combat Cloud will in real-time connect and synchronise all the platforms and enable the processing and distribution of information to enhance situational awareness and collaborative operations.

Airbus as European leader in Defence and Security will bring the strength of its wide range of expertise and solutions in combat and mission aircraft (including development and integration of mission and weapon systems), space systems and collaborative C5ISR (digitalized command and control, communication, cybersecurity, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance).

Thales will bring its expertise in Defence Equipment and Solutions, in space and aerospace systems, driven by its global leadership in digital security. Both companies’ strong skill in digitalisation and operational systems related to collaborative combat are provided through their solutions covering the entire critical decision chain in an increasingly interconnected world.

The two companies will design the Air Combat Cloud, first in the frame of the Franco-German FCAS cooperation but with the clear ambition towards enlarging the scope of collaborative combat capabilities between national Air Forces at European level should the member nations decide so. The incremental inclusion of platforms and related collaborative combat capabilities, which when combined with the New Generation Fighter (NGF) and Remote Carriers (RC) in 2040, will achieve the full FCAS ambitious challenge.

Airbus and Thales are convinced that, by combining both companies’ capabilities with the wider French and German defence industry, both partners will actively contribute to shaping future European airpower, the key to securing Europe’s operational, technological and industrial sovereignty for the coming decades, according to a Thales statement.

Lasting 18 months, the demonstration phase of the FCAS program will focus on the main technological challenges per domains:

• Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as the prime contractor and Airbus as the main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System,
• Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as the main partner,
• Air Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as the main partner,
• Engine with Safran and MTU as the main partner.

The NGF and the RC program are combined to form the Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS) program.

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