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French Senate submits budget request for national future fighter effort

A model of the NGF manned fighter at the core of the FCAS/SCAF project. The French Senate has issued a budget amendment request to fund a feasibility study to develop a wholly national alternative should the project with Germany and Spain fail. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

French lawmakers have submitted a request to develop a wholly national future combat aircraft, with a Finance Bill for 2023 amendment posted in late November.

The budget request by the French Senate is to fund a EUR10 million (USD10.5 million) feasibility study to develop a future replacement for the country's Dassault Rafale. It came after repeated references by that company's CEO, Éric Trappier, to a “Plan B” should industrial agreements not be reached on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de combat aérien du futur (SCAF) project with Airbus of Germany and Indra of Spain.

“This amendment aims to finance studies intended to establish the feasibility conditions for a new generation fighter project financed by France outside of any co-operation,” the senate document said. “Since 2017, work on the future air combat system (SCAF), which is intended to replace the Rafale fleet, has been carried out in co-operation with Germany and Spain. Although the SCAF project was the subject of an agreement between the staffs of the French, German, and Spanish armies on 30 August 2021 relating to the expression of the operational need, risks remain, the signature of the main contract (involving in particular Dassault Aviation and Airbus) having been postponed following disagreements between the subcontractors.”

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