France, Germany, and Spain reach a general agreement on SCAF

PARIS, (BM) – After the industrialists involved in the SCAF [Air Combat System of the Future] program have finally agreed on sharing tasks and industrial property issues, it is now up to the States concerned, namely France, Germany and Spain to validate the technical and financial proposals submitted to them, learned citing opex360. And this to be able to launch phase 1B of the project, which paves the way for the development of a demonstrator.

Ideally, they should have reached this deal before May 1. This was the deadline set on April 20 by the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly. However, they did not. A spokeswoman for the German Defense Ministry gave the reason. “An agreement on the use of intellectual property rights has not yet been reached. For Germany, unrestricted access to jointly funded research is of the utmost importance,” she told Reuters on May 1.

This was confirmed by Ms. Parly during a hearing at the National Assembly three days later. Phase 1B “concerns the preparation of a demonstrator which will have to fly from 2026/2027. To this end, industrialists have given us proposals […] on all […] seven pillars,” she first recalled. “Today, discussions continue mainly on the clauses for the protection and sharing of industrial property. So I can’t tell you more,” she told MPs.

However, added the Minister, “of course, we all have hopes to get it done extremely quickly. These are essential clauses, so you will understand that we are spending the necessary time on them because what we will conclude in the coming days will have an impact over a very long period. These are very high stakes,” added and continued. “Speed and haste should not be confused.”

However, hours after Ms. Parly’s hearing, a German source “familiar with the matter” told Reuters that the three states have finally “reached general agreement on the next steps in the development” of SCAF.

“The participants in the program will draw up a list of intellectual property rights for the future European combat aircraft by mid-May,” the source said. “The list will indicate the rights open to all and those who will remain within the companies concerned,” she added. It, therefore, remains to establish this list within ten days.

As SCAF is a system of systems, it has seven areas of work, as the Minister reminded MEPs. The first area concerns the New Generation Fighter [NGF] and should be developed by Dassault Aviation, designated prime contractor, and Airbus Germany and Airbus Spain. If we stick to the comments reported by Reuters, we understand that the list of intellectual property rights relates to the latter.

Once finalized, this inter-state agreement will still have to be examined by the Finance Committee of the Bundestag [lower house of the German Parliament], which is systematically referred to as soon as an investment of more than 25 million euros is involved. February 2020, when it came to launching phase 1A of the project, the German deputies had given the green light lip service while setting several conditions and demanding guarantees to protect the interests of industrialists from across the Rhine.

Either way, all signals must be green to launch phase 1B of SCAF by the summer, before the next German federal election, the outcome of which could be fatal.


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