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Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo Launch Euro MALE Program, Unveil Full-Size Mockup

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Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo Reaffirm Their Total Commitment in the First Fully European MALE Program

(Source: Joint press release; issued April 26, 2018)


Leading aerospace contractors from France, Germany, Italy and Spain unveiled at the Berlin air show a full-scale mockup of the future European MALE drone, emphasizing their commitment to the program. (Airbus photo)


BERLIN --- The first full scale model of the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MALE RPAS) was unveiled today during a ceremony held at the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show, which opened its gates at Schönefeld airport.

The reveal ceremony, led by Dirk Hoke, Airbus Defence and Space Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO and Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo’s Aircraft Division Managing Director, confirms the commitment of the four European States and Industrial partners to jointly develop a sovereign solution for European Defence and Security.

The unveiling of the full-scale model and the reaffirmed commitment comes after a nearly two-year 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 countries in May 2015.

“While still a lot of work lies ahead of us, this full-scale model represents a first milestone of what Europe can achieve in a high-technology sector if it bundles its industrial strength and know-how” said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “The MALE RPAS will become an integral part in guaranteeing Europe’s sovereignty in the future. This programme is ideally suited to meet urgent capability requirements of Europe’s armed forces. This innovative partnership also eases the countries’ constrained budgetary situation through clever pooling of research and development funds,” he added.

“Today’s unveiling reflects our companies’ total dedication to the European Defence and Security sovereignty. Cooperation and high technology legitimate the leadership of the European Industry and guarantee the strategic autonomy of Europe,” declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. “Innovative programmes through efficient partnerships will serve European competitiveness and will offer new alternatives to the off-the-shelf acquisition of non-European products. Dassault Aviation reaffirms its full support to Airbus Defence and Space as programme leader of the MALE RPAS.”

“Unmanned technologies and their applications represent one of the key technological foundations for the future evolution of European Defence Industries” said Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo’s Aircraft Division Managing Director. “The European MALE RPAS is orientated to foster the development of high technologies and will contribute to sustaining key competencies and jobs within Europe providing Armed Forces with an high performance and sovereign operational system” he added.

About the MALE RPAS programme

First unmanned aerial system designed for flight in non-segregated airspace, its characteristics will include mission modularity for operational superiority in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, both wide area and in-theatre.

The nation’s agreement on the air vehicle configuration in mid-2017, selecting a twin-turboprop propulsion system, will supply ample on-board energy for the mission system, and provide proper redundancy to limit restrictions when operating over European densely populated ground and unrestricted airspaces. In January 2018, the MALE RPAS successfully passed System Requirements Review (SRR), which initiated the second phase of the definition study to lead to a System Preliminary Design Review (SyPDR), scheduled for the end of this year.

The SyPDR will demonstrate the quality and fitness for the proposed design. “Air Traffic Integration” and certification are key objectives, giving the participating States full confidence that the development step can be launched with acceptable residual risks.

Preparations for the next stage (development, production and initial in-service support) are already well under way. Entry-into-service of European MALE RPAS is planned for the middle of the next decade.


Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2017 it generated reported revenues of € 67 billion – or € 59 billion restated for IFRS 15 - and employed a workforce of around 129,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

With over 10,000 military and civil aircraft delivered in more than 90 countries over the last century, Dassault Aviation has built up expertise recognized worldwide in the design, development, sale and support of all types of aircraft, ranging from the Rafale fighter, to the high-end Falcon family of business jets and military drones. This unique experience has allowed Dassault Aviation to propose innovative operational solutions as well as a pragmatic and dynamic approach to cooperation. Thanks to a deep understanding of industrial partnerships, Dassault Aviation has established a wide network with other companies to optimize the success of today’s programmes but also to contribute to the synergy of tomorrow’s European Defence Industry.

Leonardo is among the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. As a single entity from January 2016, organised into seven business divisions (Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne & Space Systems; Land & Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security & Information Systems), Leonardo operates in the most competitive international markets by leveraging its areas of technology and product leadership. Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), in 2016 Leonardo recorded consolidated revenues of 12 billion Euros and has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the UK, the U.S. and Poland.

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