Big update on European 6th Generation fighter aircraft

Until the summer, the development of the 6th generation fighter aircraft FCAS can go to the second stage of development.

The first samples of the European sixth generation fighter (Next Generation Fighter – NGF), developed under the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program, will receive M88 engines from Rafale aircraft. This was announced by La Tribune on Wednesday. It also became known that the program participants divided the work on the program between French, Spanish, and German enterprises.

A mock-up of an NGF fighter jet at the 2019 Le Bourget air show.
A mock-up of an NGF fighter jet at the 2019 Le Bourget air show.

Old engine for a new generation

The agreement between Safran, which produces the M88, and the German MTU Aero Engines, implies the adaptation of the existing engine for a promising fighter. At the same time, the Spanish company ITP, participating in the FCAS program, did not sign the agreement. Recall that in 2019 MTU and Safran agreed to create a joint venture for the production of M88 engines, but the partners could not decide on the program manager.

Snecma (modern-day Safran Aircraft Engines) launched the M88 development program in 1986. Shortly thereafter, the Rafale A prototype achieved supersonic sound without afterburner and withstood overloads in the -2g to + 9g ranges. Modern modifications of the M88 develop thrust up to 10,700 kgf. At the same time, the engines of the M88 series have a relatively low weight (M88-2-E4 – 897 kg), and a modular design that facilitates repair and modernization.

Snecma M88-2 engine
Snecma M88-2 engine.

Second phase

In parallel, the French Senate announced that Airbus and Dassault Aviation have removed the “main obstacle” in the creation of a sixth generation fighter demonstrator. This is stated in the message of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, published on Tuesday.

We are talking about the distribution of intellectual rights and working space between France, Spain and Germany. Thus, Dassault Aviation will lead the French participation in FCAS, Airbus – the German, and Indra will represent the Spanish participation in the project. The German parliament is expected to approve the agreement by the summer – before leaving for summer holidays. In this case, the FCAS program will proceed to the next stage on time.

At this stage, the European companies participating in the program are working on a Joint Conceptual Study. After that, the main features of the sixth generation fighter will become known, and work on FCAS will move to stage 1B.

Recall that the demonstration of machines created within the framework of FCAS is scheduled for 2026-2027, and the launch of serial prototypes may take place by 2040. In addition to the NGF fighter, unmanned carriers of UAV swarms are being developed as part of the program, which will be able to interact with manned aircraft.

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