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Contract Launches Definition Study of New European Unmanned Aircraft

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European MALE RPAS Definition Study Contract Awarded

(Source: OCCAR; issued Sept 28, 2016)


In August 2016, the contract for a Definition Study of the European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) Programme was awarded by OCCAR to Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo S.p.A.

The contract kick-off meeting chaired by OCCAR and involving the three companies as well as the programme Participating States was held on 6 September 2016 at Airbus premises in Manching, Germany.

The Definition Study Contract award marks the initial phase to deliver this important European capability. The MALE RPAS Programme will further develop and strengthen the European industrial expertise and skills in this essential technological area.

OCCAR awarded the contract in the name of the four programme Participating States France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The three companies Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo S.p.A. are working together as co-contractors to perform the Definition Study.

OCCAR and the European Defence Agency (EDA) cooperate in respect of Air Traffic Insertion of MALE RPAS and the potential participation of other states in future phases of the Programme.

MALE RPAS will be a remotely piloted air system for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. The first step of the Programme is a two-year Definition Study to define the baseline specifications/design for the future MALE RPAS. The Definition Study includes both a System Requirement Review (SRR) and a Preliminary Design Review (PDR).

Air Traffic Integration and certification of the MALE RPAS is a key objective of the Programme.

Preparation for the potential next steps (Development and Production) will be part of the activities to be performed during the second year of the Definition Study. The entry into service of MALE RPAS is aimed at the 2025 timeframe.

Prior to the contract award, the MALE RPAS Programme was formally integrated into OCCAR with the signature of the respective Programme Decision by the members of the OCCAR MALE RPAS Programme Board.

The OCCAR MALE RPAS Programme Division will be located in Munich/Hallbergmoos.

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European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) Programme Takes Off

(Source: Airbus DS, Dassault Aviation & Leonardo joint statement; issued Sept 28, 2016)

MANCHING, Germany --- Since beginning of September the development of a common European drone has entered a new phase. The contract for the Definition Study of the European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) Programme, assigned to Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo-Finmeccanica, has been launched by a kick-off meeting chaired by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) with the attendance of the programme participating States France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

MALE RPAS will be a new generation, remotely piloted air system for armed Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. Air traffic integration and certification for European densely populated environment are part of the key distinctive objectives of the programme.

The two-year definition study starts from September 2016. It will be jointly executed by Airbus Defence and Space, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aircraft Division with an equal work allocation. The three companies are co-contractors to perform the definition study.

Following the study, the start of the development phase is planned for 2018, with a prototype first flight in early 2023 and a first delivery of the system in the 2025 timeframe.

Operational requirements of the nations will be defined in close cooperation with the Armed Forces.



"Successfully teaming European nations, industries and defense ministries to improve sovereignty and independence is an outstanding mission, and today marks a new milestone in this innovative partnership" said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space.

"This cooperative programme will contribute to European Industry leadership and autonomy in the strategic field of surveillance drones and will provide Armed Forces with high performance and sovereign operational systems" emphasized Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

"The European Male RPAS programme is a unique opportunity to promote the development of high technologies expertise, capabilities and jobs, of fundamental importance within Europe. Technological and operational sovereignty will be delivered to Nations, relying on the experience of decades of European cooperation in military programmes," said Mr. Filippo Bagnato, Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aircraft Division Managing Director.

The European MALE RPAS

Previously known as MALE 2020 Project, the European MALE RPAS Project foresees the development of a European Unmanned Aerial System for long-range missions at medium flight altitudes (MALE). Besides being an answer to the European armed forces’ requirements, it will take into account the need to optimize budgetary resources through pooling of research and development funding.

With a European development, critical requirements around the certification of drones and sovereignty of operations by Armed Forces are inherently built into the programme from the onset. The European MALE RPAS is orientated to foster the development of high technologies and will contribute to sustaining key competencies and jobs within Europe.


Airbus Defence and Space, a division of Airbus Group, is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise and the second largest space business worldwide. Its activities include space, military aircraft and related systems and services. It employs more than 38,000 people and in 2015 generated revenues of over 13 billion Euros.

With more than 8,000 military and civil aircraft delivered to more than 90 countries over the past 60 years, and having logged nearly 28 million flight hours to date, Dassault Aviation can offer recognized know-how and experience in the design, development, sale and support of all types of aircraft, from the Rafale fighter to the Falcon range of high-end business jets, as well as military unmanned air systems. In 2015, Dassault Aviation reported revenues of €4.20 billion. The company has almost 12,000 employees.

Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aircraft Division is one of the Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s business divisions. As a single entity from January 2016, organised into business divisions (Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne & Space Systems; Land & Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security & Information Systems), Leonardo-Finmeccanica operates in the most competitive international markets. As of 31 December 2015, Finmeccanica recorded consolidated revenues of 13 billion Euros and has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the UK and the U.S.

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