A full-scale mock-up of the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) remotely piloted air system (RPAS) was unveiled for the first time at the ILA Airshow in Berlin on 26 April.
The European MALE RPAS (also referred to as the EuroMALE, although a final name has not yet been decided) was showcased by Germany and Spain’s Airbus Defence and Space (DS), which is developing the platform alongside France’s Dassault Aviation and Italy’s Leonardo.
Slightly larger in size than the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper, the European MALE RPAS features a twin pusher-propeller configuration that is necessary for the unmanned aircraft to safely operate in commercial airspace. The model on display was shown with a single electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor.
Speaking to reporters at the unveiling, the CEOs of the three participating companies reaffirmed their total commitment to the project while answering questions as to the configuration and future plans for the European MALE RPAS.
Dirke Hoke, CEO of Airbus DS, noted that while the model on display was full-sized, it did not show all of the features that would be included on the actual aircraft. Hoke did say that, while intended primarily as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) vehicle, there will be an option for it to be armed, although it was too early to say precisely with what.
Hoke, along with Benoit Dussaugey, his counterpart at Dassault Aviation, and Lucio Valerio Cioffi, likewise at Leonardo, declined to be drawn on the specifics of the workshare arrangement that has been agreed between the parties, or to say where production might take place. While Hoke also declined to say how many European MALE RPASs the partner nations were looking to procure, he did note that a number had been provided to industry so as to cost the project.
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