By Pierre Tran
Paris – The French air and space force should not have to wait for a future combat air system to gain access to a highly capable command and control network, a senior French air force officer said June 22.
“We cannot wait for SCAF/NGWS.
“We need to start earlier with the current platforms that we have,” Lt. Gen. Frédéric Parisot of the French air and space force told the first air and space power conference held by the European Intervention Initiative.
Murielle Delaporte, editor of specialist magazine Opérationnels, was moderator for the panel.
Système de Combat Aérien Futur is the French term for Future Combat Air System, in which there is Next Generation Weapon System, comprising a next-generation fighter and remote carrier drones.
“We are close to conclusion” on NGWS, he said. “We hope all the governments will go for it.”
There have been close negotiations between government and industry on the budget for phase 1B for development on the NGWS, with demonstrators of a fighter jet and remote carriers to fly in 2017.
Parisot pointed up the need for strong European cooperation in operations and industry.
There should be a European capability for collaborative air combat, linking up sensors and manned and unmanned aircraft on the same network, he said.
The European air forces and industry needed to work on common standards and open architecture for connectivity in a multi-domain network.
“It is essential for us. It is a sovereignty issue for Europe,” he said.
The next L16 should not be considered standard issue for the European forces.
European cooperation was needed as the development cost of NGWS was so high, a nation could not afford the program on its own, he said.
There was need for “combat mass,” with a sufficient number of aircraft and remote carriers.
There was backing from the European Defense Fund on a collaborative air combat program that would allow the “FCAS world” to fly one day with the “Tempest world,” he said.
France, Germany and Spain are partners on FCAS, while the UK, Italy and Sweden are cooperating on the Tempest fighter project, led by London.
The Dassault Aviation Rafale fighter jet will be operational to “2065-ish,” Parisot said.
“Rafale will continue to evolve,” he said.
An F4 version is in the pipeline, and there is thought on an F5, which will carry the ASN4G weapon, a planned hypersonic fourth-generation nuclear missile.
There will be F6 and F7 versions of the Rafale, which will be a “workhorse,” he said.
There were French plans for a major program for a future medium tactical cargo plane to replace the C-130, which would draw on development of the A400M, he said, inviting conference attendees to see him if they were interested.
Parisot concluded by calling for the 13 air forces in the European Intervention Initiative to consider which projects might be of interest and sign up as partner.
Dirk Hoke, chief executive of Airbus Defense and Space, said he hoped the German parliament would approve the budget for FCAS tomorrow.
A green light from the Bundestag finance committee would allow industry to start development work on the FCAS technology demonstrator.
European sovereignty underpinned government backing for an unmanned aerial vehicle, which set the pathway to the more ambitious and more complicated FCAS project, he said.
There were major changes in design and development on FCAS, with the industrial partners using software tools to allow technology change to be integrated, he said, the first time that approach would be used in a military program.
FCAS would draw on tools such as Edge computing and artificial intelligence, allowing a military program to close the gap with civil aviation, he said.
Threats were evolving in complexity, calling for “technology hungry” solutions, which were more complex, said Eric Beranger, chief executive of missile maker MBDA.
That meant greater need for cooperation, as a single nation found it hard to meet the requirements.
Cooperative programs called for partner nations to discuss and arrive at joint specifications, while industry needed “visibility over the long run,” as companies needed to invest in new domains. Governance of programs was vital, setting rules for who was responsible for what, with clear decision-making.
“Intense dialog” was needed to deliver a convergence of positions, he said.
In the pro-European tenor of the conference, there was also a proud bearer of the French flag.
“We are French,” said Eric Trappier, executive chairman of Dassault Aviation.
“We feel French and we are following the interest of France. We are proud to be French.”
That patriotic sentiment had not prevented Dassault from cooperating with the German Dornier company to build the Alpha jet training aircraft and Dassault leading partners from six nations – including France- on the Neuron demonstrator for a stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle, he said.
Foreign orders account for some 90 percent of Dassault sales, with 10 percent from the French defense ministry.
On cooperative programs, Trappier called for a clear operational requirement, which should not change after five months or five years, as that would mean complexity. Upgrades could be made step by step.
States, not the European Union, should cooperate, he said.
There should be a single program director answering to three partner nations, rather than three program directors, and there should be a “best athlete” approach on FCAS, with a prime contractor leading a specific activity or “pillar.”
On that basis, there will be a prime contractor for the new engine, and Dassault will be overall architect and take lead on the new fighter jet.
Simulation was important for future technology, to see what the threats and response could be, he said, but there was need for demonstrators, flight tests and test centers.
China and Russia were building fighters without cooperation, and while the U.S. was an ally and not a threat, it was developing weapons for its own use, he said.
“Cooperation is a contract,” he said. Europe needed to organize cooperation to be efficient and deliver the right performance.
The European Defense Fund was a “huge opportunity” to foster competitiveness in the defense industrial base, boosting “strategic autonomy and our freedom,” said Thierry Carlier, international director at the Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office.
There would be support for small and medium companies, mid caps, and the supply chain.
The EDF could also support new forms of cooperation and increase interoperability, he said. Industrial partners stood to be benefit not just governments.
On arms exports, there was a sovereignty issue as each European nation had its own rules, he said, and there was need to find an agreement in cooperative programs.
France has an overarching agreement with Germany and was willing to extend that to other partners, he said. France also has an export deal with the UK through its agreement on MBDA.
The European Intervention Initiative (EI2) conference was being held June 22 and 23 at Le Bourget national air and space museum, just outside the capital.
The conference was backed by the armed forces ministry, its general directorate for international relations and strategy, Gifas aerospace industry association, Airbus, Dassault, MBDA, Safran, Thales, and Ariane group.
Editor’s Note:The video below highlights panel 2 from the European Intervention Initiative – Conference held on June 22 and 23 2021.
According to the conference website:
“The French Air & Space force together with the other 12 European Intervention Initiative (EI2) partner Air forces hold the first edition of the EI2 Air & Space Power Conference on 22 and 23 June 2021, from 09:00 to 17:00, at the National Air and Space Museum of France in Paris – Le Bourget.
“Addressing « European air power – control of strategic and operational tempos », this first edition is oganized around 8 round tables.
“They put into perspective several challenges air powers have to face due to the multiplicity of tempos.
“Opened by general Philippe Lavigne, French Air & Space force chief of staff, and closed by Madam Florence Parly, French minister for the armed forces, the conference bring together chiefs of staff and high authorities of defense ministries, grand industry leaders, distinguished academics with the objective of promoting European strategic culture with respect to air & space power.
“It is a broadcast live conference on the French Air & Space force YouTube channel on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 June 2021 starting at 09:00.”
This panel was moderated by Murielle Delaporte, editor of OPERATIONNELS. It was distinguished panel which included Lt. General Parisot, Dirk Hoke, Eric Beranger, Eric Trappier, and Thierry Carlier.
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL FREDERIC PARISOT
Currently Vice Chief of the French Air and Space Force since last March Before then (like most high level military officers), he had multiple careers (/lives) as:
- As a pilot: commanded the 1/5 Vendée Fighter Squadron at Orange AFB in 2001
- As a Graduate: from the Joint War College (CID), Higher Military Studies Center (CHEM) and Institute for Higher National Studies (IHEDN)
- As a fighter: 3,000 flight hours and 81 war missions
- As a Coalition player: First exchange and liaison officer within the Pentagon [working in the USAF Chief of staff’s Strategic Studies Group (2008)]
- As a military planner:
- 2018: Deputy Chief of the Chief of staff of the FASF and in charge of preparing the future
Currently Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space since 2016
- Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Brunswick in Germany
- Started his professional career as R&D Engineer for process and software analysis in the automotive industry at Renault in Paris
- 1996: joins Siemens
- 2011: became the Division CEO of Industrial Solutions, including the digital platform business
- Indeed his career spans more than 25 years and 5 continents in different industries, but with a recurring focus i.e. digitalization.
Currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MBDA since 2019
- A graduate engineer from the École Polytechnique and Telecom Paris
- Since starting his career in 1988, he has held management positions in engineering, operations and finance at France Telecom, Société Générale, and Matra Marconi Space
- 2003: created Astrium Services
- 2012: became CEO of Astrium Satellites
- Prior to joining MBDA, Éric Beranger was the Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb.
Currently Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation since 2013
- Served in the Navy during his conscription and graduated from the National Institute of Telecommunications (Telecom Sud Paris).
- 1984: started his career at Dassault.
- 2001: Director of military exports
- 2006: International general director
Currently Director of the International Directorate of the DGA, French procurement Agency since 2018
- Graduated as an aeronautic and space engineer from “Centrale” in 1990
- Served in the Navy during his conscription ; then joined DGA
- 2000: head of procurement policy office of DGA
- 2013: Deputy Director for bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and for European development
- 2014: Deputy Director for international, strategic and technological affairs at PM’s General Secretary for Defense and Security