Airbus and its partners aim to finalise the scope and price of the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) in the coming weeks, ahead of a planned first prototype flight in early 2023.
Speaking in Manching on 6 November, Jana Rosenmann, head of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) said that Airbus is now heavily engaged with its partners Dassault and Leonardo, as well as with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), in closing out these two critical aspects of the European MALE RPAS being developed by Germany, France, Italy, and Spain to form part of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
"We are now in a very intense convergence phase of the programme, with the four nations and OCCAR. We hope to conclude later this year in determining the scope and price of the system, which is the culmination of two-decades of collaboration," Rosenmann said.
Rosenmann's comments came nearly 12 months after the partners completed the design definition phase of the European MALE RPAS (also known as either EuroDrone or EuroMALE), with the announcement on 13 December 2018 of the successful conclusion of the preliminary design review (PDR). The PDR, which was passed on 22 November 2018, ended the definition study contract signed on 26 August 2016 and cleared the way for the launch of the development phase in early 2019.
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 a intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) vehicle, there will be an option for it to be armed.
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