ACA (Agile Combat Aircraft)
By July 1982 the P110 was now called the Agile Combat Aircraft. Industry's P110 proposals had now been superseded by those for the Agile Combat Aircraft. In September 1982, BAe managed to gather its partners Panavia (MBB and Aeritalia) and transformed P.110 into the Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA, not to be confused with the "Advanced Combat Aircraft").
The ACA concept superseded P110 as a private venture project by British Aerospace in collaboration with its German and Italian Tornado partners. It suggested that the MOD should be involved in funding P110 and ACA, but the Secretary of State's was unwilling to do this and offered instead a jointly funded British Aerospace-MOD demonstrator programme called EAP, the experimental aircraft program.
The Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA) design closely resembled the proposal advocated by the Panavia and Turbo Union firms during the ECA negotiations. Dassault continued with its own ACX design studies, but fiscal and political realities soon forced the French back in the direction of collaboration. To keep French options open, Dassault developed larger and heavier ACX designs that more closely satisfied British requirements.
By December 1982 a program definition study was nearing completion, and negotiations were in progress with a view to placing an early contract with British Aerospace for the demonstration in an aircraft of the technology applicable to a variety of possible future advanced agility aircraft.
The RAF requirement, as described in the announcement of December 1983 about an air staff agreement on an outline European staff target for a future European fighter aircraft. The agreement was signed between the air staffs of the United Kingdom, West Germany, Franc, Italy and Spain. It related to a single-seat, twin-engined, agile, short-take-off-and-landing fighter for introduction in the 1990s. In accordance with normal practice, it is envisaged that a United Kingdom covering version of this outline staff target will be issued as an air staff target. The size of program was in the range of 800 aircraft.
In September 1982, the British Ministry of Defense announced that it would provide partial funding for the development of an experimental technology demonstrator, though a formal contract was not signed until May 1983. In France, in April 1983 Minister of Defense Charles Hernu approved Dassault's development of the ACX technology demonstrator, which became the Rafale. Some months earlier the Defense Ministers of France, Britain, and the FRG had formally agreed to again begin negotiations for a joint requirement for the collaborative development of a Future European Fighter Aircraft (FEFA), later re-designated European Fighter Aircraft (EFA).
For the purpose of carrying out the Experimental Aircraft Programme, British Aerospace proposed to use one of the planned prototypes of the Agile Combat Aircraft on which it was collaborating on a private venture basis with Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm and Aeritalia, and it was agreed that the Ministry of Defence's demonstrator needs can be met in this way. The Ministry of Defence was contributing to the Agile Combat Aircraft only and had no commitment to the agile combat aircraft as such.
As a participating country, the United Kingdom agreed with Germany, Italy and Spain in August 1985 to proceed with the project definition phase. The industries in those nations embarked on a study in September 1985 and that was completed in September 1986.
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