The prospect of an all-new European-built tactical transport has moved a step closer after a consortium led by Airbus Defence & Space was awarded €30 million ($32 million) to conduct a feasibility study into the requirement.
Announced on 27 June, the grant from the European Defence Fund will enable the FASETT (future air system for European tactical transportation) project to “analyse the technical and market possibilities for the potential development of a new cost-competitive and robust aircraft platform”.
Due to last 18 months, the feasibility study will “carry out a co-operative analysis of the transport aircraft replacement needs of EU member states on the 2030-2040 horizon and to identify European development opportunities to address strategic gaps”.
Comprising 33 entities – both companies and research institutes – from 12 European countries, the FASETT group includes: airframers Airbus D&S and Leonardo; propulsion specialists GE Avio, ITP, MTU Aero Engines, Safran and Rolls-Royce Deutschland; sensors and electronics firms ELT Group, Hensoldt, Saab and Thales; and others such as Austrian composites provider FACC and Finnish defence specialist Patria.
Four of the countries involved in FASETT – France, Germany, Spain and Sweden – are separately participating in a PESCO project to develop a new military transport called the Future Mid-size Tactical Cargo (FMCT).
This would “complement the missions of the [Airbus] A400M, including on narrow and short unprepared strips”, says the project description.
Widely considered as a future replacement for ageing fleets of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, Leonardo C-27Js and Airbus C295s, the FMCT is sometimes dubbed the “A200M” in reference to its size relative to Airbus’s tactical airlifter.