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Three companies to lead Spain’s UAV contribution to FCAS

18 February 2020
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The Remote Carrier element of the FCAS/SCAF system will serve as a ‘loyal wingman’ to the New Generation Fighter. The combination of this unmanned platform and the fighter will be known as the Next-Generation Weapon System. Source: Jane’s/Gareth Jennings

Three Spanish companies are to jointly spearhead the country's participation in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) element of the NGWS (Next Generation Weapon System) that forms part of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF) programme.

GMV, SENER Aeroespacial and Tecnobit Grupo Oesia announced that they had reached the accord as part of the industrial plan being co-ordinated by the Spanish Ministry of Defence (MoD). An agreement was signed at the MoD on 17 February, at which the government was represented by the Secretary of State for Defence, Ángel Olivares, and the Secretary General for Industry and SMEs, Raul Blanco.

For FCAS/SCAF, the NGWS comprises the New Generation Fighter (NGF) and 'loyal wingman' UAVs. These UAVs are known as Remote Carriers (RCs), and overall development is being led by Airbus.

News of the Spanish participation in developing the RCs came days after France and Germany launched the demonstrator phase of the FCAS/SCAF project on 12 February. Besides the NGWS, this demonstrator phase also includes the Air Combat Cloud (ACC), which networks together all the elements of the future battlespace.

Spain's decision to take a one-third share in the FCAS programme constituted "an effort of participation without precedent in the European aerospace industry", the companies said in a joint statement.

"It centres on the development of new technologies and the evaluation of new concepts - based on a group of unmanned [air] vehicles, some with [intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance] ISTAR observation capacity". As such, it represented "an important step forward in the positioning of Spanish industry in the NGWS/FCAS project and opens the doors to the development of disruptive technologies".

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