European Next Generation Fighter Engine Team Takes Shape

 - April 30, 2021, 11:55 AM
A notional NGF design is portrayed flying with “remote carrier” loyal wingmen. A powerplant is being developed for the final design, but the technology demonstrator design will feature the existing M88 engine to hasten the start of test efforts. (Photo: Airbus via MTU)

The French-German-Spanish team responsible for developing the engine that will power the European Next-Generation Fighter (NGF) has been formed. As a first step, France’s Safran Aircraft Engines and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines announced a 50/50 joint venture known as EUMET GmbH (European military engine team) on April 29, following earlier letters of intent and terms of agreement. On the same day, a partnership was announced between EUMET and Spain’s ITP Aero.

To be headed by a Safran-nominated CEO and based in Munich, Germany, EUMET will oversee the development, production, and support of the engine for the NGF, which is itself part of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. In addition, the joint venture will oversee the integration of the existing Snecma (Safran) M88—which powers the Rafale fighter—into the flying demonstrator planned for the NGF.

Safran is tasked with leading the engine’s overall design and integration, while MTU will lead the engine service activities. ITP Aero has joined as a main partner of EUMET, which will result in an equal workshare across the three nations. The companies will be the sole prime contractors within their respective countries. ITP will be fully integrated into the engine design process and will lead the development of the low-pressure turbine and nozzle, as well as other components.

“We have set a reliable and solid framework for pragmatic and focused decisions among the partners over the entire life cycle of the engine,” said Michael Schreyögg, chief program officer of MTU and first chairman of the Shareholders’ Meeting of EUMET. “Having reached this we will jointly focus on the major next steps ahead: securing the contract for the demonstrator phase during the next few months and ramping up development activities in line with our highly ambitious timeline until 2040.”

The three partner nations have established a timetable for FCAS, with the next research and technology phase (R&T 1B/2) due to have received national approvals around mid-year. Earlier in April, France’s La Tribune reported that Airbus and Dassault had reached a tentative agreement following differences over their respective positions on workshare, intellectual property, and other issues. The agreement was subsequently confirmed by a release from the French Senate, although neither company has officially made a comment.