Design of the future
In July 2017, after an intensive 10 months trade-off period, the European MALE RPAS Co-Contracting Group provided a substantial set of data that allowed the Participating States (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) to agree on the basic remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) configuration and several main design drivers for the system. The selected twin engine turbo-prop configuration will be the basis for further trade-off studies until the upcoming Systems Requirements Review (SRR) planned by the end of 2017.
From the outset, the European Defence Agency (EDA) was asked by Participating States to provide support to the programme, with a specific focus on the air traffic integration of the future system, and on the support to the integration of other European Member States potentially willing to join the upcoming development phase.
OCCAR Director Arturo Alfonso Meiriñoexplained: “I’m very proud that Nations have entrusted this major armaments programme to OCCAR, which provides the opportunity for OCCAR and EDA to work closely together, specifically on air traffic insertion but also to explore opportunities to welcome other participants into the Programme.”
Several factors drive the definition and will shape the development of the future system.
Competitiveness is an overarching objective that must make this new European solution the best choice for its future users. This will mean operational performance giving the end user a clear edge in the battlefield, smooth scalability to facilitate quick adaptation of the system to new missions and threats, enhanced interoperability ensuring seamless integration of the capability in multinational operations, and, of course, affordability through the whole life cycle of the system. This was reinforced by the OCCAR Programme Manager, Klaus Seitz: ”the challenge for the programme is to balance the demanding operational capabilities, affordability and certification requirements”.
The ability to operate with a high level of safety for mission or training purposes, in non-segregated air space, will also be an important driver for the design. The technical support provided by the EDA in that domain to the programme is closely linked with the wider activity of the Agency with its Member States and other European stakeholders (European Commission, EASA, Eurocontrol, SESAR JU) in preparing the regulatory framework and the technical solutions that will enable safe integration of RPAS in the Single European Sky.
As EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq put it, “This new system must be a game changer in the MALE RPAS world in 2025, not only as a platform but as a global system, as a capability”.