COLOGNE, Germany – Airbus and Dassault executives hope to finalize their offer for the next phase of the Future Combat Air System by the end of the week, putting to rest a dispute over the handling of intellectual property rights that has been simmering between partner nations Germany, France and Spain.
At issue is whether countries participating in the development of mainland Europe’s futuristic weapon system are free to use the technology to make adjustments of their own later on, said German Air Force Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz.
“It should be clear that if we’re developing a European system, there can be no black boxes,” he said at an online press conference organized by German aerospace industry association BDLI. The term “black box” refers to technology purchased as-is, with no means by customers to understand, replicate or modify it.
“It must be possible to hand intellectual property rights from branch of industry to another so that it’s possible for all partners to make their own developments in the future,” Gerhartz added.
The trinational FCAS program aims to replace the German Eurofighter and French Rafale fleets by 2040. As envisioned, it will consist of a next-generation manned jet and a number of drones, dubbed remote carriers, that can be tasked to work in concert on anything from reconnaissance to strike missions.
Germany’s Airbus and France’s Dassault are the main contractors for the program. As Europe’s most ambitious weapons project ever, it is estimated to have a price tag in the hundreds of billions of euros. Spain is meant to be a full participant, with Indra as national lead, getting access to a third of the overall work share.
Next up for the program is additional development work culminating in the presentation of a demonstrator aircraft and remote carriers by 2026 or 2027. Those could be simple, throw-away drones or more elaborate unmanned planes in the style of a “loyal wingman” to the human pilot, said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, at the same press conference.
An agreement on intellectual property usage is needed both on the government and industry level before submitting an offer for the upcoming program stage. The idea is to find a compromise by Feb. 5, have the Berlin government submit the documentation to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, for approval over the next few months, and get the green light to spend additional money before the summer break, according to Hoke.
Go to the news source: Companies seek end to haggling over FCAS rights with fresh offer this week