The European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) programme has completed the negotiation phase for the Stage 2 Contract.

This follows negotiations between Airbus Defence and Space and the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR).

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The contract includes the development, production and initial in-service support for five years of 20 systems.

Last week, the four Programme Participating States (PPS) gave confirmation to the 7th Programme Board that the contract conditions, prices and performance were met.

This is expected to permit the launch of the final PPS’s national staffing processes.

The programme has crossed many different milestones since the past four years.

In 2016, it launched a Definition Study to define common requirements between Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The study was then completed with the System Preliminary Design Review (SPDR) in 2018.

In a statement, OCCAR said: “The subsequent two years were fully devoted to negotiating and refining the industry offer with comprehensive and long-lasting discussions to ensure that the contract would meet PPS’ expectations in terms of performance, affordability and value for money.

“This has been achieved with the last BAFO for the Stage 2 Contract prepared by Airbus Defence and Space GmbH and its major sub-contractors (Leonardo, Dassault Aviation, Airbus Defence and Space SAU).”

The contract signing is set to occur early next year.

The European MALE RPAS will conduct its first flight in 2025. The first serial items delivery to PPS is scheduled to take place in 2028.

The unmanned system will be operated worldwide to support intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.