An Airbus-led team of industry partners have conducted the first large-scale multi-domain flight demo (MDFD) for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Conducted earlier this year, the demonstration was executed by Airbus in collaboration with the German Armed Forces, Finnish Defence Forces, MBDA Germany, Patria, HAT.tec and Robonic. 

It involved the integration of various crewed-uncrewed platforms to accomplish a realistic mission.

During the MDFD, different platforms operating above Rovajärvi, Finland, were connected through a meshed compact airborne networking data link.

A Learjet 35 was also deployed as a surrogate fighter for this demo, while its onboard aircrew commanded five Do-DT25 drones that represented remote carriers (RC).

Out of five RCs, two were integrated with MBDA’s Electronic Support Measures sensors, for identifying fictional rogue warlords’ ground air missile positions while three featured electro-optical cameras.

The tests also involved a simulated fighter representing command-and-control aircraft. 

During MDFD, ground troops requested close air support, via a forward Joint Terminal Attack Controller, to extract a fictional rogue warlord in absence of air defence.

In response, an Airbus H145M helicopter was immediately deployed along with one EO-equipped RC to monitor/provide reconnaissance data to special forces.

Airbus Military Air Systems head Jean Brice Dumont said: “This is yet another example of how we push boundaries and pioneer technologies so our customers can fulfil their missions: saving lives and ensuring a better future for us.”

The latest milestone marks the culmination of Phase II of the FCAS manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) demonstrator project.

The project, funded by Germany’s Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), has now entered Phase III.

It will involve the development of new capabilities, while refining existing ones, to support initial operations by 2030.

Airbus has also signed an initial contract with BAAINBw for the next phase.