The multinational European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) has completed an initial 10-month definition process, with a basic configuration now agreed among the partner companies and nations.
The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) announced at the end of July that Airbus Defence and Space (Germany and Spain), Dassault (France) and Leonardo (Italy) have decided on a twin-turboprop configuration for the new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), ahead of further studies under the Systems Requirements Review (SRR) phase of the programme.
Work to develop the European MALE RPAS (formerly referred to as MALE2020) formally commenced in September 2016 with a definition phase focusing on common operational capabilities, top-level technical requirements, the overall system, design, and the future MALE RPAS development and production effort.
The disclosure that the configuration will be that of a twin-turboprop is somewhat surprising, given that early indications were that the UAV would be based on Airbus DS’ jet-powered Talarion. Despite being cancelled in 2012 due to a lack of customer interest, the Talarion has been displayed at several events in the intervening years with 'European UAS [unmanned aircraft system]' stencilled on its nose.
With the initial study phase now complete, the official development phase is due to begin in 2018, with a prototype first flight in early 2023 and delivery of the first system in the 2025 timeframe.
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