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Following the award of the Phase 1A Demonstrators contract for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) earlier in the month, Airbus and Thales announced on 20 February that the two companies have agreed on co-development of the Air Combat Cloud (ACC) – a key enabler for the FCAS system of systems.

Under this agreement, Airbus and Thales will work jointly on the structural design of the ACC, to support collaborative air operations at national and multinational levels, and will conduct a first phase of technology demonstrations of ACC capabilities. This agreement supports the ACC pillar of the Demonstrator Phase 1A. covering the next 18-month period and will serve as a starting point for demonstrators and technology development.

FCAS will deliver increasing operational effects by leveraging the collaborative capabilities of connected manned and unmanned platforms, bringing the next level of air power to denied environments. Within FCAS, the ACC will connect and synchronise platforms in real time and enable processing and distribution of information to enhance situational awareness and collaborative operations.

Airbus will bring its wide range of expertise and solutions in combat and mission aircraft, space systems and collaborative C5ISR. Thales will contribute its capabilities in defence, space and aerospace systems, driven by expertise in digital security. Both companies’ strong skills in digitalisation and operational systems related to collaborative combat derive from solutions covering the entire critical decision chain in an increasingly interconnected world.

The two companies will design initially design ACC in the context of the Franco-German FCAS cooperation but with the clear ambition of enlarging collaborative combat capabilities between national air forces at the European level, should member nations decide so. Incremental inclusion of platforms and related collaborative combat capabilities, when combined with the New Generation Fighter and Remote Carriers in 2040, will achieve the ambitious challenge of the FCAS vision.

Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO of Thales (left) and Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, signing the ACC development agreement. (Photo via Airbus)

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