German Federal Audit Office Flags FCAS Project

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  • 07:56 AM, June 21, 2021
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German Federal Audit Office Flags FCAS Project
Future Combat Air System (FCAS)

The German Federal Audit Office (FAO) has flagged the Future Combat Air Systems (FCAS) project in which Germany is partnering with France and Spain to build the FCAS together with its weapons complement called Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS).

The FAO noted "that no final negotiated agreement (between Germany and its partners) has been submitted to Parliament,” reports German outlet NTV. The FAO concerns come amidst an expected decision on further financing of the multi-billion-euro project to be made in the Bundestag (German Parliament) before the summer break.

In mid-May, the three participating countries -- Germany, France and Spain -- announced a "fundamental agreement" on how to proceed with the project after an industrial political struggle. Last week, the Air Chiefs of the FCAS project countries exchanged their operational perceptions on the progress of the NGWS.

Germany’s Ministry of Defense now intends to conclude another "implementation agreement" with France and Spain. As per the FAO, Germany should invest around €4.468 billion. On Wednesday, the budget committee is supposed to approve it in the last meeting before the summer break, NTV reported.

The auditors are also critical of the construction of a prototype in Germany and recommend an analysis of the economic viability. The Ministry of Defense had also pointed out "certification risks" with the aircraft. Another outlet Spiegel had previously reported significant concerns from the Bundeswehr Procurement Office (BAAINBw), according to which a submitted contract "has to be renegotiated from a technical and economic point of view and is therefore not ready for drawing.”

The chairman of the Left in the Defense Committee, Alexander Neu, spoke out against the project and expected cost increases of up to several hundred billion euros. "In this way, valuable tax money, which would be important for real challenges such as combating the climate and environmental catastrophe, is being sunk into nonsensical armaments projects." Rüdiger Lucassen, defense policy spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group, expected a "billion dollar grave without ever having a ready-to-use system in the air.”

From a German point of view, the unequal distribution of burdens is also unacceptable, the NTV report says.  "The French armaments industry is massively preferred, the German taxpayers disproportionately burdened," said Lucassen. "With FCAS, Germany is ultimately financing the successor to the French fighter-bomber fleet, which can land on aircraft carriers and carry nuclear weapons to its target. Germany and the Bundeswehr do not need either.”

The Future Combat Air System (French: Système de combat aérien du future or SCAF; Spanish: Futuro Sistema Aéreo de Combate or FSAC) is a European combat system of systems under development by Airbus, Thales Group, Indra Sistemas and Dassault Aviation. The FCAS will consist of a NGWS as well as other air assets in the future operational battlespace. The NGWS's components will be remote carrier vehicles (swarming drones) as well as a New Generation Fighter (NGF) - a sixth-generation jet fighter that by around 2035–2040 will replace current France's Rafales, Germany's Typhoons and Spain's EF-18 Hornets.

A test flight of a demonstrator is expected around 2025 and entry into service around 2040.

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