MBDA Unveils Missile Concept For 6th-Gen FCAS Aircraft; Germany Orders 20 Eurofighter Typhoons

With the European next-generation fighter program ‘Future Combat Air System’ (FCAS) led by France, Germany, and Spain progressively taking shape, MBDA Germany has unveiled a conceptual standoff-range cruise missile that it believes could become part of the FCAS.

Flight Global reported that the new concept missile, ‘remote carrier multi-domain multi-role effector,’ or RCM², made its debut at the ongoing ILA Berlin air show. The missile is expected to have a strike range of more than 500 kilometers. 

The replica of the about 4 m (13 ft) long design is on display at the FCAS static exhibit at the ILA Berlin Air Show, which kicked off on June 5 and runs until June 9. 

According to Thomas Gottschild, managing director of MBDA Germany, the RCM² would be appropriate for a range of missions, even though its performance is comparable to that of the Taurus cruise missile of the present generation. 

For perspective, the Taurus missile boasts a long range of about 500 kilometers, advanced navigation systems, and enhanced accuracy. Moreover, Taurus’ terrain-contour matching navigation system renders it less vulnerable to electronic jamming, while its extended range offers increased safety for fighter jet pilots.

However, as per Gottschild, the newly unveiled RCM² missile would provide additional capability as “It can carry different payloads: a kinetic warhead, or for electronic combat [and jamming]. “This makes it very interesting for different use scenarios.”

If an extended booster is not installed, MBDA says the RCM² will fire with a launch weight of under 340 kilograms. The company claims it will be equipped with an imaging infrared seeker, an inertial navigation system, and a turbofan engine.

Although the details about the missile are scarce, we do know that it comes at a time when FCAS is finally picking pace after a long period of delays and troubles between the three partners. Gottschild also noted that in addition to this missile, the business is currently working with Rheinmetall on a joint project to produce a tiny anti-drone missile.

Further, Gottschild said he has urged Germany to investigate the possibility of integrating the Meteor air-to-air missile from MBDA with its upcoming Lockheed Martin F-35A fleet, which will consist of 35 aircraft.

MBDA is not the only defense manufacturer to spring a surprise at the Berlin Air Show. Airbus unveiled a full-sized model of its futuristic unmanned wingman concept aircraft today. The company also announced a new collaboration with German AI startup Helsing to develop AI capabilities for the eventual airframe.

The new aircraft, known only as Wingman, is made to fulfill the German Air Force’s evolving operational needs. According to Airbus, the platform is intended to operate in tandem with manned combat aircraft, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, to provide enhanced capability and air supremacy over enemies. Additionally, the business has emphasized that the Wingman will get instruction from a manned fighter jet pilot while adhering to human-in-the-loop protocol.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz made a bigger announcement: His country would buy multiple Eurofighter Typhoons.

20 More Eurofighter Typhoons For Germany

Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday that Germany would purchase 20 more Eurofighter jets from Airbus (AIR.PA), opening a new tab. The NATO member is spending more on defense in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

Scholz made his remarks at the opening of the ILA air show, which is located just outside of Berlin, and stated his strong commitment to maintaining and expanding arms production capacity.

“That is why we will order 20 more Eurofighters before the end of this legislative session — in addition to the 38 aircraft currently in the pipeline,” he said, adding that the order would give certainty to Airbus and its suppliers.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a multirole, supersonic, canard delta wing, twin-engine European multinational fighter produced by a team comprising Airbus, BAE Systems, and Leonardo. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, a joint holding company, primarily manages the project.

Earlier, the German government and Airbus Defence & Space inked a deal in November 2020 to produce and supply 38 new Eurofighter aircraft to the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. Airbus formally began the final assembly of these aircraft at its facilities in Manching, near Munich.

The decision comes as Germany strives to completely replace its outdated Tornado aircraft with the Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Scholz pledged to maintain capacity utilization for the German town of Manching, which produces Eurofighter jets. He noted that this would secure all of the supply chain, including Airbus and the Manching production plant.

Intriguingly, the announcement comes several weeks after the Eurofighter consortium’s economic impact study of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets projected hundreds of possible sales for the aircraft.

File Image: Eurofighter Typhoon

The Eurofighter Economic Impact Assessment report, which was put together by Strategy&, a part of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), presents a “growth scenario” of up to 287 new sales, some of which are aircraft that have just been contracted but have not yet been delivered. 

The report, released on April 9 by the Eurofighter consortium, predicted that hundreds more multirole combat aircraft could be sold to exporting and partner countries.

While the report stopped short of specifying the exact source of the additional predicted sales, analysts and officials have nonetheless anticipated that Germany would purchase more aircraft to modernise its fleet.