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Paris Airshow 2023: Belgium acquires observer status in FCAS Future Combat Air System research and development program.

| 2023

On the proposal of the Belgian Defense Minister, Ludivine Dedonder, the Council of Ministers gave its agreement to Belgium's participation as an observer in the German-French-Spanish FCAS project aimed at developing a European air combat capability with avant-garde technology.

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Belgium acquires observer status in FCAS Future Combat Air System research and development program Model of the European Future Air Combat System unveiled at the Paris Air Show 2019 (Picture source: Wikipedia/John Newton)

The government agreement stipulates that Defense will continue to focus on innovation, research and technologies in the years to come in order to contribute not only to the security of our country and Europe, but also to the recovery economic. In this regard, a Defense, Industry and Research Strategy (DIRS) has been developed under the leadership of the Royal Higher Institute for Defense (IRSD). The DIRS aims to develop and consolidate a defense industrial and technological base (BITD).

Given the importance of air combat capabilities for European and transatlantic security and defense policy and the position of the Belgian BITD in the aerospace field, the "Next Generation Combat Aircraft Technologies" (NGCAT) constitute one of the fifteen technological fields in which Belgium wishes to invest within the framework of its DIRS policy.

An NGCAT working group has been tasked with studying and developing a proposal for Belgian participation in the research and development of these next-generation air combat systems.

The working group concluded that participating in a program to develop a next-generation air combat capability offers a unique opportunity, both for the development of the Belgian BITD and for the aerospace sector in general. Participation stimulates the development of innovative technologies, the building of a solid knowledge base and the acquisition of a technological lead, while having a significant impact on employment.

The “Future Combat Air System” (FCAS) is a research and development program led by France, Germany and Spain equally. The program aims to develop a “system of systems” that interact with each other. It combines several components, such as a next-generation combat aircraft, unmanned flying platforms, a new generation of sensors and network infrastructure.

Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister: “Belgian defense and aerospace players are leaders in their sector. Participating in the development of the next generation of air combat systems, being a driving force, will allow our companies to be at the forefront of innovation while offering great prospects in terms of economic spinoffs. I am delighted with this decision, which is 100% in line with the industrial policy that we have drawn up for the future and which also strengthens Defense Europe. »

Ludivine Dedonder, Minister of Defence: “I am delighted with the welcome given by my German, French and Spanish colleagues who have today indicated that the FCAS (SCAF) program is open to Belgian participation. As a country with an excellent aerospace and defense industry, we absolutely could not miss this opportunity. By joining this project, we are including our country in a structuring program in many areas of technological innovation that will have both military and civilian applications. This European project is fully in line with the strategy of Belgium and Europe to work for stronger strategic autonomy with a view to a safer Europe. »

Observer status in the FCAS program was officially confirmed by French President Emmanuel Macron during a speech delivered on Monday, July 19 at the Paris Air Show.

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