European partnership moves forward to creating the SCAF, a new European air defense system

European partnership moves forward to creating the SCAF, a new European air defense system

Prototype’s first test flights are scheduled for 2026, an essential step toward the establishment of a European defense cooperation system. SCAF project is a French, Spanish, and German partnership.

On May 7, 2020, General Philippe Lavigne, General Javier Salto, and General Ingo Gerhartz, chiefs of staff of the French, Spanish, and German air forces, met by videoconference, to discuss the progress of the Système de combat aérien du future SCAF (future air combat system) partnership.

Since September 2019, the three chiefs of staff have to hold periodic meetings; French air forces sources say that last week the parties agreed on the prototype’ selection procedure. According to the French air force, the conceptual study should be submitted by mid-2021. The three chiefs of staff allied air forces wish to respect the goal of a first flight of the “new generation” fighter prototype by 2026.

In last week’s meeting, the three chiefs of the French, German, and Spanish air forces also agreed on a shared understanding of the joint air combat connectivity needs. The three partners should work over the project for the next two decades, before the entry into service of the new generation air system in 2040.

Therefore, the states formed a dedicated trilateral working group. Its primary task will be deciding the timing of national program adjustment, to integrate the connectivity needs before SCAF completion smoothly.

On February 20, 2020, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany and Ángel Olivares Ramírez, Secretary of State to Margarita Robles, Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Spain, signed the combat aircraft prototype contract, the first stage of SCAF (Future Air Combat System).

France and Germany considered the project in 2019, and recently Spain joined it. The three states’ goal is to equip their respective armies with a new generation air combat system. The new combat system will include a fighter, supporting drones, and a combat cloud, “the system of systems” that will connect all flying assets and allow their interaction.

The SCAF project aims to resolve a shared military necessity. However, in the opinion of the three partners, the new European fighter will also be a trigger for integrating European air forces.

Valerie Tricarico

Valerie Tricarico is a Security journalist specialized in C4ISR systems. She covers transnational security issues, such as international relations, terrorism, insurgency, state stability, organized crime, WMD proliferation and cybersecurity, as well as trends within OSINT analytics and news reporting on developments in the global intelligence community.