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European MALE drone passes Preliminary Design Review
MALE RPAS. © Ministère des Armées

European MALE drone passes Preliminary Design Review

Europe's Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) programme passed the System Preliminary Design Review on 22nd November.

Europe's Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) programme passed the System Preliminary Design Review on 22nd November. The programme successfully completed its System Requirements Review (SRR) in January.

The European Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) — the European agency that manages collaborative defence programmes — invited Airbus Defence and Space to submit a Tender for the development, production and initial in-service support phase of the programme on 31st October.

The participating states (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) and industry will now be able to start developing the system with aligned requirements and a clear picture of the overall system design.

As designated future prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space will coordinate the industrial response to the Invitation to Tender (ITT) with the involvement of major Sub-Contractors: Airbus Defence & Space, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo.

The successful completion of the System Preliminary Design Review comes after a  two-year definition study launched in September 2016. Three of the participating states had already signed a Declaration of Intent (DoI) to work together on a European MALE unmanned aerial system in May 2015, while Spain joined the programme in 2016.

Designed for flight in non-segregated airspace, MALE RPAS characteristics will include mission modularity for operational superiority in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, both wide area and in-theatre. The participating states agreed on the air vehicle configuration in mid-2017, selecting a twin-turboprop propulsion system.

A full-scale model of the vehicle as unveiled at the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show in April.

The MALE RPAS is scheduled to be in service worldwide by the middle of the next decade to perform Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.

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