Airbus and its partners have completed the design definition phase of the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) remotely piloted air system (RPAS), with the announcement of the successful conclusion of the preliminary design review (PDR) on 13 December.
The PDR, which was passed on 22 November, ends the definition study contract signed on 26 August 2016 and clears the way for the launch of the development phase in early 2019. A prototype first flight is expected in early 2023, with delivery of the first system in about 2025.
Managed by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), the European MALE RPAS, also known as the EuroMALE, is being developed by Germany (Airbus), France (Dassault), Italy (Leonardo), and Spain (Airbus). It was recently disclosed that the Czech Republic (Aero Vodochody) will also partner on the project.
A full-sized mock-up revealed at the ILA Berlin Airshow earlier this year showed the unmanned aircraft to be slightly larger in size than the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper, with a twin pusher-propeller configuration. The model on display was shown with a single electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor. Although intended primarily as an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) vehicle, there will be an option for it to be armed.
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