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Eurosatory 2024: Airbus debuts new tactical UAS

Airbus launched the Capa-X at Eurosatory 2024. A new tactical UAS with a 10 kg payload capacity and 120 kg MTOW. The model is a 1:2 scale replica of the actual vehicle. (Janes/Olivia Savage)

Airbus debuted its new tactical, light unmanned aircraft system (UAS) Capa-X at the Eurosatory 2024 defence exhibition held in Paris from 17 to 21 June.

Capa-X is a modular fixed-wing and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS designed to support a range of missions, including reconnaissance, logistics, territorial surveillance, and rescue.

Explaining the system to Janes, the head of light tactical UAS for Airbus, Christophe Canguilhem, said the aircraft has been designed as a tactical group three UAS with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 120 kg that is capable of exceeding 10 hours of flight time while carrying payloads of up to 10 kg.

The system's modular design allows for the integration of various sensors and equipment, including radar, electro-optical sensors, and electronic/communications intelligence systems. There is also scope to weaponise the aircraft in the future, including by adding new light, airborne loitering munitions once they are available, Canguilhem said.

A large gimbal is featured on the nose of the aircraft, provided by an undisclosed European company, following rigorous trials with several competing systems. The gimbal provides day and night vision, provided by electro-optical and infrared sensors, although it does not feature a laser designation system, Canguilhem added.

The aircraft features both a thermal engine for driving the fixed-wing aircraft and an electrical battery-powered engine for VTOL. In the VTOL configuration, the system can reach speeds of up to 150 km/h.

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