Several European countries are to go ahead with the development of Eurodrone, a medium-range military drone that will be developed by Airbus Defence and Space as the prime contractor.
The Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System will be suitable for use in Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions or homeland security operations.
According to Airbus, the aircraft is being developed to feature “open architecture” to allow for upgrades and “rescoping of its capabilities” as may be required by the future needs of customer armed forces.
An initial contract has been signed to make 20 systems and provide five years of in-service support has been signed by Spain, France, Italy and Germany. The program will be led by Airbus Defence and Space in Germany with Airbus Defence and Space in Spain, Dassault Aviation of France and Italy’s Leonardo as major sub-contractors.
Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space said, “This signature kicks-off the development of one of the most ambitious European defence programmes. \
“It will deliver the most advance Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in its segment, generate more than 7,000 jobs within the industry and will strengthen European industrial sovereignty, know-how and collaboration between nations.”
Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation said, “Innovative programs with strong key technological foundations will guarantee the strategic autonomy of Europe by offering new alternatives to the on-the-shelf acquisition of non-European products.”
Lucio Valerio Cioffi, general manager of Leonardo said, “Eurodrone will provide high performance and sovereign operational systems to the armed forces and represents a key constituent of the European defence industry as well as an opportunity to showcase our technological expertise and capabilities stemming from decades of European collaboration on military programs.”
Eurodrone will also be designed to meet requirements that enable integration into civil airspace, helping to improve efficiencies such as the use of direct flight paths, without the need for pre-planned emergency landing sites to save time and fuel.
Development of Eurodrone will use digital design and manufacturing technologies and processes. According to Airbus Eurodrone is the first program that will be fully designed and developed from the start in this way to benefit from better upgrade planning, improved operational availability and lower life-cycle costs.
According to reports, Airbus expects Eurodrone’s first flight to take place in 2025 and for the drone to enter into service by 2028.