Since beginning of September the development of a common European drone has entered a new phase. The contract for the Definition Study of the European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) Programme, assigned to Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo-Finmeccanica has been launched by a kick-off meeting chaired by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) with the attendance of the programme participating States France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
MALE RPAS will be a new generation remotely piloted air system for armed Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. Air traffic integration and certification for European densely populated environment are part of the key distinctive objectives of the programme.
The two-year definition study starts from September 2016. It will be jointly executed by Airbus Defence and Space, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aircraft Division with an equal work allocation. The three companies are co- contractors to perform the definition study.
Following the study, the start of the development phase is planned for 2018, with a prototype first flight in early 2023 and a first delivery of the system in the 2025 timeframe.
Operational requirements of the nations will be defined in close cooperation with the Armed Forces.
“Successfully teaming European nations, industries and defense ministries to improve sovereignty and independence is an outstanding mission, and today marks a new milestone in this innovative partnership” said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space.
“This cooperative programme will contribute to European Industry leadership and autonomy in the strategic field of surveillance drones and will provide Armed Forces with high performance and sovereign operational systems” emphasized Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
“The European Male RPAS programme is a unique opportunity to promote the development of high technologies expertise, capabilities and jobs, of fundamental importance within Europe. Technological and operational sovereignty will be delivered to Nations, relying on the experience of decades of European cooperation in military programmes,” said Mr. Filippo Bagnato, Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aircraft Division Managing Director.