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Airbus to develop Eurofighter STAR manned-unmanned teaming for ‘loyal wingmen'

An artist's impression of the ECW ‘loyal wingman' concept for the Luftwaffe being remotely controlled by a Eurofighter EK electronic combat aircraft. (Airbus)

Airbus is to develop a manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capability to enable the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to remotely control ‘loyal wingmen' under the System and Teaming Advanced Research (STAR) programme.

An employment opportunity recently posted by the company for a chief engineer on the project spelled out its key objectives, not just for the Eurofighter but also as a bridge to the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF) programme.

As noted in the listing, the project to be undertaken at Airbus Defence and Space's Manching facility in southern Germany sits within the X-Platform Capability Study (XPCS). It is geared towards showcasing a first demonstration of MUM-T on the Eurofighter, with the mid- to long-term goal of introducing command-and-control capabilities onto the aircraft in preparation for FCAS/SCAF.

The project will see the “development of the STAR demonstrator, a Eurofighter twin-seat aircraft intended to incorporate new cockpit and connectivity elements to explore new human-machine interface (HMI) and connectivity technologies for future FCAS[/SCAF] applications, and [to] mature [the] Eurofighter to become a future FCAS[/SCAF] asset”, Airbus said. The company added that the XPCS and STAR demonstration objectives are to be compatible and complementary to the four Eurofighter partner-country Long-Term Evolution (LTE) development.

Though not directly referred to in the Airbus posting, the Eurofighter MUM-T will be related to the control of remote carrier (RC) and Electronic Combat Wingman (ECW) ‘loyal wingmen'.

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