This year’s Farnborough Airshow, which runs from July 18 to July 22, will once again feature Diehl Defence as an exhibitor. After prior appearances at the ILA Berlin Airshow in June and the Singapore Airshow in February, the firm will exhibit at an airshow for the third time already in 2022.
Diehl’s premier IRIS-T air-to-air missile, used by several air forces worldwide on platforms including the Eurofighter Typhoon, SAAB Gripen, F-16, and F-5, will be on show. Additionally, Diehl Defence will demonstrate how its missile technology may be used for futuristic ideas like the Future Combat Air to Air Missile (FCAAM).
Future Combat Air to Air Missile (FCAAM)
Speaking at Eurosatory 2022 in Paris on June 13, Markus Isphording, head of marketing for Air Force Systems, said the FCAAM product concept is for the next-generation AIM-2000 IRIS-T (also known as IRIS -T FCAAM), which will feature the state-of-the-art design, components, networks, data communication systems and propulsion system required to equip a Next Generation Fighter (NGF) element with an Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/ Système de combat aérien du futur (SCAF)/ Futuro Sistema Aéreo de Combate (FSAC) product.
As per Isfording, the FCAAM product is part of the FCAS product. Currently, it is a conditional project – not even a prototype at this stage, but it will be a new generation IRIS-T stealth system that will have upgraded components, an infrared homing head that will provide it with the ability to protect from interference, a communication channel to transmit information, back to the carrier aircraft, during the flight, and possibly a pulsed engine to provide an increase in the probability of destruction.
The company product brochures for the FCAAM rocket shows the possibility of all-aspect interception, including against other missiles, thrust vector control, multispectral homing mode, artificial intelligence algorithms and other modern technical capabilities. Isfording said these capabilities will be available over a much wider range – from very short range to near-line-of-sight range. However, he added that FCAAM is focused on interception ranges of less than 37 km.
Isfording said it could very well be possible to integrate the missile into the future Tempest fighter, which the UK is developing under its own FCAS program with partners in Italy and Sweden. He believes that the missile can match the times line of these fighters until 2040.
The NGF fighter, for which the FCAAM missile will be developed, is part of a wider element of the NGWS (Next-Generation Weapon System) next-generation weapons system in the FCAS / SCAF structure, which includes the use of a loyal wingman and a cloud-based air combat system ACC (Air Combat Cloud). Other elements of the NGF project include the next NEFE (Next European Fighter Engine) engine program and the NEE (New European Engine) engine program, sensors, stealth technologies for stealth and mutual integration.
NGF fighter was due to enter service in the early 2040s, but just days before the opening of the Eurosatori 2022, Dassault’s chief designer said that due to ongoing delays in agreeing on industrial conditions, the 2050 schedule year is more realistic. It is not yet clear how such a delay could affect the FCAAM project.
In addition to NGWS, the broader FCAS/SCAF project will include the Eurodrone, a European medium-altitude long-range remotely piloted unmanned system, also called EuroMALE, an ultra-stealth combat UAV, advanced cruise missiles and modern aircraft platforms operating in future combat space.