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IFC 2023: Luftwaffe maps out vision for electronic warfare ‘loyal wingman'

With the Luftwaffe to field the Eurofighter EK in the electronic attack role, a mock-up was showcased at the ILA Berlin Airshow 2022. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The German Luftwaffe intends to operate its Eurofighter Elektronischer Kampf (EK) electronic warfare (EW) aircraft alongside a dedicated unmanned ‘loyal wingman', it was disclosed on 6 November.

Commanding General of Air Force Forces Command, Lieutenant General Günter Katz, revealed the Electronic Combat Wingman (ECW) in a briefing slide presented at the IQPC International Fighter Conference (IFC) 2023 in Madrid. As represented in the slide, the ECW is the unmanned adjunct of the Eurofighter EK as part of the wider Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF) system of systems (SoS).

“The ECW is currently just a vision for the Luftwaffe, we would need to first sit down with our industry partners to work out requirements,” Lt Gen Katz said, adding that, while the slide showed the ECW tied specifically to the Eurofighter EK with other remote carrier (RC) ‘loyal wingman' unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) tied to other legacy and future airframes, it could complement any platform with an EW mission set.

The slide showed the ECW to be of a futuristic ‘stealth' planform, but Lt Gen Katz cautioned against reading too much into this, given the very early stage of the concept development. Similarly, Lt Gen Katz said it is too soon to map out the specifics of the ECW's future mission set, either as a standalone asset or as an adjunct to the Eurofighter EK. The project is so new that it does not have a German name assigned to it yet.

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