France and Germany are starting to set up requirements for their next generation fighter, and it will be a complete disaster.
I know this from one data point, it’s size.
The aircraft will have 2 engines in the 30,000 lb thrust class, which implies a massive, and massively expensive, aircraft.
This is the start of a cycle.
It starts with over aggressive specifications and unrealistic schedule and budget, and as the already excessive cost climbs, the program slips, and is restructured in the quest to find cost sharing partners, and finally, a fleet hobbled by inadequate numbers and excessive costs:
France and Germany’s pursuit of a next-generation combat aircraft for the 2040s may have been plagued by quarrels over workshare and export opportunities in recent weeks, but behind the scenes there appears to be agreement about the way forward.
National internal studies into the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) have concluded that advanced future threats need to be met with a system of systems that has a manned fighter at its heart, supported by and connected to legacy fighters and a family of ground- and air-launched unmanned aircraft systems-—some expendable, some recoverable, and others with very-low-observable attributes.
Few details have been broadcast about the NGF’s architecture, but the proposals certainly indicate a large twin-engine, low-observable platform. Studies call for the development of 30,000-lb.-class powerplants. The resulting platform is likely to be larger and heavier than the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafales it is envisaged to replace, more in the size class of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor or even the Northrop Grumman YF-23.
Dassault presented this tailless, twin-engine NGF design at the Euronaval defense show in Paris in October. Credit: Dassault Aviation Concepts
Some sense of scale could be drawn from the potential size of the weapons bay, which likely will be sized to fit a future French standoff nuclear weapon.
The current weapon, the ASMP, is a 5.38-m-long (17.7-ft.) ramjet-powered weapon. The French are reportedly studying hypersonic performance for the next generation, ASN4G, which likely will be a similar size.
Another consideration of scale will be France’s ambition to develop a carrier-
borne version, to replace the Rafale M deployed on its Charles de Gaulle carrier. Carrier operations will result in size and weight limitations. The naval version of the Rafale has a lower maximum takeoff weight than its land-based counterpart. However, France plans to replace the Charles de Gaulle with a new carrier, to be operational in the late 2030s, which will be developed to operate with the NGWS.
We already have the unrealistic specifications down pat.