The OCCAR* Executive Administration (OCCAR-EA) has launched an invitation to tender to the potential future prime contractor, Airbus Defence & Space GmbH, on Oct. 31 for the European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) programme.
The invitation was launched shortly before the end of the definition study, launched in September 2016. The participating countries of the programme are France, Germany, Italy and Spain. On industry side, Airbus Defence & Space S.A.U., Dassault Aviation and Leonardo s.p.a. are involved as major sub-contractors for the intended Global Contract, covering development and production, as well as an initial in-service support phase. The ambitious schedule foresees a contract signature in 2019.
The European MALE RPAS, often referred to as EuroMALE, is a project to develop a European drone for ground and sea surveillance. The RPAS will be operated worldwide to especially support ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions. It will be also able to carry a variety of payloads as well as ground support missions with precision weapons engagement.
The EuroMALE drone is visually based on the Talarion MALE unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by EADS Cassidian. The prototype of the new drone has jet engines of Talarion replaced by turboprop engines with pusher propellers and a T-tail in place of conventional tail.
In May 2015, France, Germany and Italy declared their intention to conduct a definition study to prepare the development of a European Medium Altitude Long Endurance RPAS. Since then, Spain has become the fourth participating member and, in Dec. 2017, Belgium joined as an Observer Nation with a view to becoming a Participating State in due course.
In August 2016, the European MALE RPAS Programme was officially integrated into OCCAR, a dedicated programme division was established in Munich/Hallbergmoos (Germany) and the Definition Study contract was awarded by OCCAR to Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo S.p.a. as a Co-Contracting Group (CCG).
The Participating States endorsed in July 2017 the baseline configuration “twin-engine turboprop” for the further Definition Study activities.
Further, in January 2018, the System Requirement Review (SRR) was passed and accepted by OCCAR-EA.
The first full scale model of the MALE RPAS was unveiled during a ceremony held at the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show. The drone is scheduled to enter service in mid-2020s
*The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (French: Organisation conjointe de coopération en matière d’armement; OCCAR) is a European intergovernmental organisation that facilitates and manages collaborative armament programmes through their lifecycle between the nations of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.