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ILA 2018: European MALE unmanned aircraft unveiled
MALE RPAS. © Ministère des Armées

ILA 2018: European MALE unmanned aircraft unveiled

The first full-scale model of Europe's future Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) was unveiled on 26th April.

The first full-scale model of the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) was unveiled on 26th April during a ceremony at the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show.

The unveiling comes after a definition study launched in September 2016 by the four participating nations Germany, France, Italy and Spain and follows the Declaration of Intent to work together on a European MALE unmanned aerial system signed by the four nations in May 2015.

The twin turboprop-powered MALE RPAS is described as a remotely piloted air system for armed Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. The initial programme schedule included the start of the development phase in 2018, with a prototype first flight in early 2023 and a first delivery of the system in the 2025 timeframe.

The programme successfully passed its System Requirements Review (SRR) in January.

Besides being an answer to the European armed forces’ requirements, the programme will address the need to optimize budgetary resources through pooling of research and development funding.

Critical requirements around the certification of drones and sovereignty of operations by armed forces are inherently built into the programme from the onset. The programme aims to foster the development of high technologies, as well as sustaining key competencies and jobs in Europe.

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