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Paris Air Show 2023: Belgium joins FCAS/SCAF as observer nation

A model of the New Generation Fighter element of the wider FCAS/SCAF programme at the Paris Air Show 2023. Belgium announced that it is to join the programme in an observer capacity. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Belgium has joined France, Germany, and Spain in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF) programme, with Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder saying the country will have an observer status.

Announced to coincide with the Paris Air Show 2023 at Le Bourget, the agreement revealed on 19 June by Dedonder followed days of speculation that the country has decided to partner with its closest European neighbours, rather than with Italy, Japan, and the UK on the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

“I am delighted that the Germans, French, and Spanish welcome Belgium as an observer to the FCAS/SCAF programme,” Dedonder said. “By joining this project, we enable our companies to remain at the forefront of innovation while having a positive impact on employment, and we are strengthening the defence of Europe!”

As said in the announcement, the move is part of a wider drive by Belgium to focus on innovation, research, and technology in the coming years to contribute not only to its security and to that of Europe, but also to aid the country's economic recovery. In this regard, a Defence, Industry, and Research Strategy (DIRS) has been developed under the leadership of the Royal Higher Defence Institute (Institut royal supérieur de défense: IRSD). The DIRS aims to develop and consolidate a Defence Industrial and Technological Base (DTIB), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, adding that the FCAS/SCAF programme is one of 15 technological areas in which Belgium wishes to invest as part of its DIRS policy.

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