Eurodrone is the first unmanned aerial system designed for flight in non-segregated airspace. It will give Europe its own unparalleled competencies in the field of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), offering advanced strategic performance capabilities. The characteristics will include mission modularity for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, guaranteeing European sovereignty.
As a four-nation project, Eurodrone will strengthen European sovereignty by establishing and expanding an independent technological base in the field of unmanned aviation. The programme between Germany, France, Spain and Italy and under the management of the international armaments agency, OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en Matière d'Armement) promotes European cooperation in the field of security and defence and confirms the initiative to increasingly rely on multinational armament projects. Development, procurement and operation will be carried out jointly, which saves costs and increases efficiency.
Eurodrone is designed to become one of the main pillars of any future combat air system, prepared for real integration into civil airspace based on minimal restrictions and easy transportability due to its modular design. The design will offer multi-mission capabilities and significant growth potential, for homeland operations, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and armed ISTAR, which can be conducted with full operational sovereignty. The requirements and specifications have been negotiated and aligned between the end-users (Germany, Spain, France and Italy), the contracting authority (OCCAR), and participating industry partners (Dassault Aviation, Leonardo and Airbus Spain).
The Eurodrone programme will generate a further 7,000 high-tech jobs within the European Union and will secure technological knowhow development and sustainment. It will be a truly European solution, ITAR free and based on nearly 100% European technologies with EU taxpayers money flowing back into the European market and securing jobs. It offers European manufacturers a wide range of opportunities in the areas of development, production and operation.
Airbus will apply a Digital Design, Manufacturing and Service (DDMS) system that will pave the way for significant improvements to development times, cost reductions and increases in quality. DDMS will be the backbone of an advanced logistics concept that will be set up so training can start during the development phase and be fully rolled out for initial in-service support.
The development of Eurodrone is seen as a ‘lighthouse’ programme for Airbus and the entire European aeronautics industry. The future of Eurodrone will be the basis for future defence programmes, such as European FCAS.
In November 2020, OCCAR submitted the final draft contract to the participating nations. The aim is to conclude the contract in 2021, conduct the first flight in 2026 and deliver the first aircraft in 2029.
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European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) Programme takes off