Airbus, MBDA to Jointly Develop Demonstrators for FCAS Remote Carriers

Airbus and MBDA have signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of demonstrators for Remote Carriers which is part of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program.

The teaming agreement came after last week’s awarding of the FCAS Phase 1A Demonstrators contract. The teaming involves Airbus addressing the whole scope of the Remote Carriers program and in particular teaming intelligence, and focusing on medium to large platforms. MBDA will be focusing on the development of small and medium-class Remote Carriers platforms together and under the lead of Airbus.

Signature by D. Hoke and MBDA CEO Eric Béranger
Signature by D. Hoke and MBDA CEO Eric Béranger. Airbus Photo.

MBDA’s portfolio of capabilities brings complementary expertise into the Airbus led Remote Carrier domain and is expected to contribute significantly to the future capabilities of airpower. As the European champion in missiles, with industrial presence in France, Germany and Spain, MBDA brings in unique expertise in launching, flying and autonomy of small and large missiles.

Airbus, as a major European player in UAS, is building on its full-scale expertise in small to large systems and in Man-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT). Among its demonstrators, Airbus has operated since 2006 the Barracuda, a flying testbed for developing technologies and procedures to be used by mature next-generation UAVs to test fast reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and battle damage assessment capabilities.

EADS Barracuda stealth UAV
EADS Barracuda stealth unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Designed to act as force multipliers, the Remote Carriers, are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which aim at reducing the risks for manned aircraft by taking over specific air operations’ roles within high-risk environments, providing new air warfare capabilities and teaming in combination with and coordinated by other manned air assets.

Capable of “Cross Platform Mission Management”, the Remote Carriers will complement and augment manned fighter aircraft capabilities performing in close cooperation yet with a high degree of automation to improve the mission performance in high-intensity conflicts and increase the combat mass to better compensate limited numbers of sophisticated manned fighter aircraft.

Allowing more agile and faster adaptation and development of technologies, the Remote Carriers will drastically increase operational capabilities at a very fast pace.

Several types of Remote Carriers are being studied, including expendable swarms possibly followed by more sophisticated groups, providing a wide scope of potential missions to better support a safer penetration of manned aircraft into a hostile environment.

Lasting 18 months, the demonstration phase of the FCAS program will focus on the main technological challenges per domains:

• Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as the prime contractor and Airbus as the main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System,
• Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as the main partner,
• Air Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as the main partner,
• Engine with Safran and MTU as the main partner.

The NGF and the RC program are combined to form the Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS) program.

Airbus FCAS Remote Carriers Concept
Airbus FCAS Remote Carriers Concept
MBDA Remote Carriers Concepts
MBDA Remote Carriers (RC) Concepts being developed under the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS, French: Système de combat aérien futur; SCAF) program. Credit: MBDA.

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