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ILA 2024: Airbus reveals Wingman design concept, announces AI partnership with Helsing

A full-scale mock-up of Wingman was revealed at ILA Berlin Air Show 2024, showing the concept's stealth design philosophy. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Airbus revealed its new Wingman concept, showcasing a full-scale model at the ILA Berlin Air Show, the biennial event running from 5 to 9 June.

The Wingman is being developed in response to a Luftwaffe requirement, with Airbus saying it will operate as an unmanned adjunct to its Eurofighter Typhoon and other manned combat aircraft types, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

“[Wingman] is a fighter-type drone that will be commanded by a pilot in a current combat aircraft, such as the Eurofighter, and can take on high-risk mission tasks that would pose a bigger threat to manned-only aircraft,” Airbus said, adding that the full-scale mock-up and the associated artist imagery are ‘design exercises', suggesting the finished product may look different.

“The Wingman model showcases all of the foreseen capabilities required, such as low observability (LO), the integration of various armaments, advanced sensors, connectivity, and teaming solutions,” Airbus said. “Based on the current concept, the Wingman is intended to augment the capabilities of current manned combat aircraft with uncrewed platforms that can carry weapons and other effectors.”

To coincide with the Wingman reveal at ILA 2024, Airbus announced it is teaming with Helsing to develop the artificial intelligence (AI) needed for the project. Under the AI agreement, Airbus will provide its expertise in manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), with Helsing contributing its AI-relevant software-defined mission capabilities, including the fusion of various sensors and algorithms for electronic warfare.

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