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Eurodrone: OCCAR hosts first Programme Board Meeting

By Defence Industry Europe

The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) hosted the inaugural Programme Board meeting for the Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS), also known as the Eurodrone Programme. The meeting saw participation from senior representatives of the four nations involved: Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

 

During the meeting, OCCAR, alongside the prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space and key industry partners (Leonardo, Dassault Aviation) showcased the programme’s recent accomplishments and forthcoming initiatives. These included advancements in system development such as requirement and design maturation, supplier selection, and validation processes through wind tunnel testing. The assembly of parts and bench test manufacturing were also highlighted as upcoming activities in the project’s timeline.

 

 

From concept to reality: the journey of MALE RPAS

Initiated in 2016, the MALE RPAS Programme has achieved several critical milestones, beginning with a Definition Study to harmonize requirements among the participating states, culminating in 2018 with a System Requirement Review (SRR) and a System Preliminary Design Review (SPDR). The subsequent negotiation and finalization of a comprehensive contract in February 2022 for the development, production, and initial in-service support of 20 systems underscore the project’s ambitious scope. This contract encompasses 60 aircraft and 40 Ground Control Stations, positioning Airbus Defence and Space GmbH and its major subcontractors at the forefront of this groundbreaking endeavour.

 

 

In a notable achievement in 2021, the programme secured financial backing from the European Commission through the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), further facilitating a Grant Agreement with industrial partners.

With the completion of initial development design reviews, the project is poised to commence the manufacture of the first prototype in 2024, aiming for the delivery of serial items by the decade’s end.

Eurodrone is a twin-engine Large Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial System (LLUAS), a new class of Multi-Mission Unmanned System, with a maximum take-off weight of 12t (MTOW), 2.300 kg pure mission payload (no fuel) and covering a new spectrum of capabilities and performances. This new generation of RPAS will be certified to operate in non-segregated (civil) airspace and intended to cover amongst others Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Early- Warning, Large Area-Surveillance, Fleet Protection, Protection of Critical Infrastructure and SIGINT missions.

 

 

Strengthening European defence and autonomy

The European MALE RPAS is set to revolutionize Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities within the European Defence landscape, traditionally reliant on non-EU manufacturers. This initiative represents a critical step towards ensuring European strategic sovereignty and integrating cutting-edge technology into civil air traffic and non-segregated airspace.

As the first large-scale Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programme for European industries, MALE RPAS embodies a significant leap forward in the field of Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR). It is designed to support international conflict prevention and crisis management across all operation phases, highlighting its role as an indispensable asset for future military and peacekeeping efforts.

 

 

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