Airbus Defence and Space, Dassault Aviation and Alenia Aermacchi have streamlined their efforts to develop a next-generation European unmanned aerial system (UAS) capable of performing long-range missions at medium flight altitudes (MALE).
Having committed to the MALE 2020 Project at 2013 Paris Air Show, the companies have now delivered a proposal further defining the European UAS requirements to the French, German and Italian defence ministries.
The offer includes a definition phase that calls on the three countries to define and adjust their requirements for the UAS development, along with their armed forces and the European industry. It also aims to avoid costly additional developments during production and minimise the programme’s financial and development risks.
Jointly developed by the three companies, the definition phase is also backed by an industrial agreement on workshare and a cooperative agreement to start the MALE2020 programme.
Airbus Defence and Space CEO Bernhard Gerwert said the companies have reached an important milestone for the European MALE drone development with the proposal and are looking forward to launching the first step shortly.
Alenia Aermacchi CEO Giuseppe Giordo said the companies identify a clear opportunity for the armed forces to take advantage of an advanced sovereign intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability to cope with the future high level requirements.
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"Now is the time to drive technology forward and secure Europe’s capability in building the next generation of military air system as well as maintain talent and expertise in our industry, " Giordo said.
Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier said: "The proposal for the definition phase has been commonly elaborated with joint design teams and therefore demonstrates our industry’s strong commitment to this programme."
The finalisation of the definition phase is expected to be followed by a commitment from the governments to proceed, with the aim of having an affordable and certifiable solution ready by 2020.
Apart from answering the European armed forces’ requirements, MALE 2020 is also anticipated to foster the development of high technologies and contribute to sustaining key competencies and jobs within Europe.
Image: Airbus, Dassault and Alenia have delivered a proposal further defining the European MALE UAS requirements. Photo: Dassault Aviation 2013 ©.