Belgium joins FCAS fighter jet project as observer

Belgium will officially join the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project as an observer, French president Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday evening. The Franco-German-Spanish programme aims to develop a new generation of fighter jets.

The FCAS is a research and development programme that aims to develop European air combat capabilities with breakthrough technologies. It envisages a "system of systems" including a next-generation fighter jet, unmanned aerial platforms and a new generation of sensors and network infrastructure.

"As a country with an excellent defence, aerospace and space industry, we could not miss this opportunity," said Belgian Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder on Monday evening. "By participating in this project, we guarantee our country years of research and development in various fields, with technological innovations that will have both military and civilian applications."

"As a country with an excellent defence, aerospace and space industry, we could not miss this opportunity"

Prime minister Alexander De Croo added: "Being the driving force behind the development of the next generation of air combat systems will enable our companies to be at the forefront of innovation while offering excellent economic prospects. I am delighted with this decision, which is fully in line with the industrial policy we are pursuing and will also strengthen European defence."

Belgium will initially have observer status "because we are in a relatively complex design and production phase" that does not lend itself to more direct participation, Macron said earlier in the evening. 


A mock-up of the European New Generation Fighter for the Future Combat Air System at the International Paris Air Show © PHOTO JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

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