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Airbus Unveils UCAV Technology Demonstrator, Reinforces Stealth Credentials

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Airbus's Secret Stealth Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Research Program Breaks Cover (excerpt)

(Source; The Warzone; posted November 05, 2019)

By Tyler Rogoway

Airbus over the past decade developed and tested in secret the LOUT diamond-shaped technology demonstrator for unmanned combat aircraft, thereby revealing its previously unknown expertise in ‘stealth’ technologies. (Airbus photo)

Airbus has just released images and information about its previously undisclosed Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT) program that worked to provide the company with a better understanding of cutting-edge very low-observable (stealthy) design, material and manufacturing sciences, and other associated technologies.

The program dates back well over a decade, but is just breaking cover now and it stands to portray the European planemaker in a different light when it comes to its ability to produce next-generation combat aircraft.

LOUT was based on a Skunk Works concept of program execution…..The initiative incorporated holistic signature reduction techniques across RF, IR, visual, and acoustic domains. It also worked to better understand how to integrate advanced electronic warfare and countermeasures into a stealthy design to increase its survivability.

Advanced mission control and sensor fusion software that compared the aircraft's signature against threat capabilities in its environment was also part of the initiative as was the integration of advanced sensors beneath its stealthy skin. All areas of stealth technology, from the aircraft's air inlets, to its exhaust, to its sensor apertures, and other radar defeating sub-structures were incorporated into the design.

Stealthy low-probability of intercept (LPI) communications and sensors and even cybersecurity were also parts of the program. So, we are basically talking about a huge risk reduction and research program that could work as a pre-runner to eventually designing and producing a stealthy operational airframe.
From what we know about the program at this point in time, no flying airframe was ever built or tested. This risk reduction and knowledge-base expansion effort has some parallels to BAE's "Replica" demonstrator, which was part of the Royal Air Force's Future Offensive Air System (FOAS) initiative in the 1990s. That program also resulted in a high-end mockup that worked to build knowledge about next-generation low-observable technologies.

Check out images below of LOUT in the anechoic chamber. Note that the canopy is not representative of a manned design, but the modular platform was used to investigate all types of low-observable apertures, including translucent canopies for manned low-observable aircraft. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Warzone website.