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Airbus launches conceptual Remote Carrier ‘loyal wingman‘ from A400M mother ship

A screenshot from an Airbus video showing a conceptual Remote Carrier ‘loyal wingman‘ separating from an A400M mother ship during testing. (Airbus)

Airbus has launched a conceptual Remote Carrier (RC) ‘loyal wingman' unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a ‘mother ship' aircraft for the first time.

The company, which is heading the RC development pillar of the Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS) element of the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF) programme, made the announcement about the UAV launch from an A400M airlifter on 21 February.

“During a recent test, an A400M deployed a drone from its opened rear cargo ramp door whilst airborne, validating its ability to air-launch drones,” Airbus said. “During the A400M flight test, an Airbus-built Do-DT25 drone, acting as a surrogate Remote Carrier, was released over a test range in Northern Germany. Shortly after the launch, the drone's parachute opened, delivering it safely to the ground.”

As noted in the announcement, throughout the test the UAV was connected and transmitted data to the A400M launch aircraft via Airbus' new Modular Airborne Combat Cloud Services (MACCS). “This data transfer illustrates how Remote Carriers can be connected to a combat cloud network, providing vital information by serving the role of ‘eyes and ears' over the battlefield, whilst also enabling them to be tasked by the manned aircraft's operators during their missions,” the company said of the test, which involved a joint flight test crew from the Luftwaffe and Airbus.

With the A400M able to carry as many as 40 similarly sized RCs, Airbus said it will continue to validate the airlifter as a launch platform with the next flight scheduled for later in 2022.

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