A new era of Anglo-French co-operation in military combat aircraft technology has been underpinned by a bilateral contract placed with Rolls-Royce and Snecma by the UK Ministry of Defence.
Announced on 30 July, the deal will enable joint venture company Rolls-Royce Snecma to "undertake studies into the next generation of UK and French combat aircraft engines", it says. This will include investigating whether to pursue "derivatives of existing military powerplants or the development of novel power and propulsion concepts" for a next-generation combat air vehicle, it adds.
While they are in rival camps in producing the Eurojet EJ200 and M88 turbofan engines for the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale, Snecma vice-president and general manager, military engines Didier Desnoyer points to a "tradition of tight-knit partnership" with R-R. This has included products such as the Adour used in the BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainer and Anglo-French Sepecat Jaguar, and the Europrop International TP400-D6, which powers the Airbus Military A400M transport.
Rolls-Royce Snecma has also signed a related collaboration agreement with national airframers BAE Systems and Dassault "to explore concepts and technologies as part of the Anglo-French future combat air systems [FCAS] demonstration programme preparation phase contract". Signed earlier this month, this activity is expected to run for around 18 months (Dassault concept image below).
"This collaboration agreement recognises the need for airframe and power and propulsion system suppliers to work together to deliver an optimised, affordable solution for the next generation of combat aircraft for the UK and France," says Nick Durham, R-R's president, customer business - defence.
The FCAS effort is expected to draw on the lessons learned through ongoing BAE- and Dassault-led programmes which will, respectively, fly unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrators named Taranis and Neuron.