After Spain gave its green light in January this year as the last of four partner nations in the project, Airbus and the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) signed a contract that launches the development of the Eurodrone MALE RPAS.
Signed on February 24, the contract includes the development and manufacturing of 20 systems and 5 years of initial in-service support.
Industry prime Airbus Defence and Space GmbH signed in representation of the three major sub-contractors (MSC) Airbus Defence and Space S.A.U in Spain, Dassault Aviation in France and Leonardo S.p.A. in Italy, while OCCAR signed on behalf of the four launch nations Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
According to available information, the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) will have a wingspan of 30 meters and a length of 16.4 meters. It will have a maximum takeoff weight of around eleven tons and will fly at altitudes of around 13,500 meters. In addition to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, the drone will also be equipped with signals intelligence systems.
“This signature kicks-off the development of one of the most ambitious European defense programs. Eurodrone is the result of collaborative work between the industry, OCCAR and the nations. It will deliver the most advance Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in its segment, generate more than 7,000 high-tech jobs within the industry and will strengthen European industrial sovereignty, know-how and collaboration between nations,” said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.
“Eurodrone will provide high performance and sovereign operational systems to the armed forces and represents a key constituent of the European defense industry as well as a unique opportunity to showcase our high technological expertise and capabilities stemming from decades of European collaboration on military programs,” Lucio Valerio Cioffi, general manager of Leonardo, added.
Eurodrone will feature an open architecture design to allow for growth and rescoping system capabilities as may be required by the future needs of customer armed forces.
According to OCCAR, it is the first MALE designed from the start to meet requirements for integration into civil airspace, helping to improve efficiencies such as use of direct flight paths, without the need for pre-planned emergency landing sites, which saves time, fuel and, as a result, CO2 emissions.