Airbus and Europe’s Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) have signed the Eurodrone global contract, initially for 20 Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) and 5 years of initial in-service support though EX2 understands the final requirement is for 60 RPAS.
Industry prime Airbus Defence and Space GmbH will lead a team of three subcontract tors: Airbus Defence and Space S.A.U in Spain, Dassault Aviation in France and Leonardo S.p.A. in Italy. Curiously, no contract value has been disclosed, though the total project value is estimated to be more than €7 billion.
Eurodrone is a versatile, adaptable Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). It will be a platform for Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions or homeland security operations. Its open architecture will allow for future design and mission growth and rescoping system capabilities.
It is the first MALE designed from the start to meet the requirements for integration into civil airspace, helping to improve efficiencies such as use of direct flight paths, without the need for pre-planned emergency landing sites, which saves time, fuel and, as a result, CO2 emissions.
“This signature kicks-off the development of one of the most ambitious European defence programmes”, said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “Eurodrone … will deliver the most advance Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in its segment, generate more than 7,000 high-tech jobs within the industry and will strengthen European industrial sovereignty, know-how and collaboration between nations.”
Eurodrone relies on Digital Design, Manufacturing and Services (DDMS), a new, digital-first approach applied by Airbus to the way aerospace products are designed, manufactured and operated throughout all product phases. Eurodrone is the first programme that will be fully designed and developed from the start through DDMS in a stepped approach and aims to benefit from better upgrade planning, improved operational availability and lower life-cycle costs.