Airshow China 2021: China highlights its confidence in homegrown military UAVs

by Kelvin Wong

Aerospace prime AVIC showcased its WZ-7 high-altitude long endurance UAV for the first time. Seen suspended from the rafters is a scale model of its supersonic WZ-8 UAV. (AVIC)

China touted its growing confidence in its indigenously developed military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology at the 13th edition of Airshow China being held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai. The event was postponed from its original date in November 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with strict travel restrictions largely limiting attendance to domestic visitors.

While not all the military and dual-use UAVs being showcased at the event are new designs, key platforms in service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) – having been operated in tight secrecy previously – being shown to the public for the first time have attracted considerable attention from the international audience.


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Airbus expects Eurodrone contract in coming weeks

by Gareth Jennings

A scale model of the Eurodrone in Luftwaffe markings was shown at the Berlin Security Conference in November. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Airbus expects to finalise the contract to build the Eurodrone unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) “in the next couple of months”.

Speaking at the company's annual Trade Media Briefing on 30 November, the chief engineer for the programme at Airbus, Daniela Lohwasser, said that with the industrial team now ready to proceed, the programme is awaiting approval from all four participating nations.

“We are ready from our side, along with Dassault and Leonardo,” Lohwasser said. “Once we have the green light from all the partner nations [we can proceed]. It will be maybe a couple of months until we will be ready for the full contract signatures.”

France, Germany and Italy have approved their participation in the Eurodrone project, with only Spain left to sign off on its involvement.


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Increasing availability key to future A400M sales, Airbus official

by Gareth Jennings

Airbus notes that availability of its A400M remains an issue for current and prospective users, and that the company is committed to addressing outstanding problems. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Airbus needs to improve the availability of its A400M Atlas if it is to build on the transport aircraft's recent export successes, a senior company official said on 30 November.

Speaking at the virtual Airbus Trade Media Briefing (TMB) 2021, Michael Schoellhorn, the CEO of the Airbus Defence and Space division, said that poor availability remains an issue for the A400M, but that the issue is being addressed as the company looks to build on the first two export contracts for 15 years that it secured during recent months.

“There is still something to be done and improved around availability – we are very aware of that, and I have made this a part of my time every day to look at that,” Schoellhorn told Janes


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Martin UAV kicks off Mi2 prototype project

by Richard Scott

Martin UAV has commenced its Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Air System (MTUAS) Increment 2 (Mi2) prototype effort with the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD).

Announcing the milestone on 16 November, the company said that it was working to deliver a full Mi2 prototype version of its V-BAT 128 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS for operational testing and acceptance.

The Mi2 programme is founded on the Mi2 Challenge initiative, established to accelerate the identification and evaluation of a next-generation UAS capable of operating in austere deployed environments without ancillary support systems. The first phase of the Mi2 programme involved NAWCAD AIRWorks evaluating 13 responses from industry and ultimately downselecting two vendors – L3Harris Technologies and Martin UAV – for a live demonstration event.

The Mi2 Tech Demo was run at the Yuma Proving Grounds between 30 November and 18 December 2020. Martin UAV's V-BAT 128 tail-sitting VTOL UAS was evaluated alongside the L3Harris FVR-90 VTOL hybrid quadcopter.


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