On 19 November 2013, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland signed a Letter of Intent to establish a European MALE RPAS Community with the intent to facilitate information sharing, collaboration and to share operational experience in the MALE RPAS domain. With an initial focus on training, the Community was also charged with identifying areas for possible pooling and sharing in maintenance, logistics, doctrine and concepts, operated within the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) 27-Member State framework. The Agency is also active in several other areas of RPAS technical and policy development but developed very strong synergies with the European Air Group who maintained a unique focus on operator level interoperability improvement among the frontline users of its contributing Member States. In 2016, the collaboration was brought together in a joint approach in which EDA develops a simple networked RPAS procedural Training Technology Demonstrator (RTTD) to examine improved harmonisation of training approaches and EAG delivers a synergistic initiative of its own to improve the user experience of European MALE RPAS crews called the Interoperable MALE RPA ISR Training (IMRIT) project. Despite the mixed lexicon, the benefits to the Member States are clear and with the possible addition of UK and Belgium to the LoI project the combined effort can cater for up to 9 connected sites, with the possibility of others joining in due course.
MALE RPAS have without doubt caused a revolution in creating and maintaining situational awareness in recent operations.
However, the distribution of air assets able to provide this capability in Europe is still limited and the same can be said of the level of interoperability and mutual cooperation between their users. But this situation is expected to improve considerably in the coming years, as the EAG’s collaboration with the EDA and the European MALE RPAS Community to develop this unique training solution reaches maturity and delivers the intended step change in operator level interoperability. With a delivery schedule of just two years, the MALE RPAS ISR Training programme will introduce the first multinational synthetic training capability that could become a template for other networked initiatives.