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European firms join forces to build next-gen UAV

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Future European MALE UAV concept. An EADS photo

BERLIN/PARIS/ROME (BNS): European defence giants Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Alenia Aermacchi have come forward once again to move ahead with their earlier proposal of designing and developing a next-generation unmanned aerial system (UAS) for Europe.

The three firms have submitted a proposal for further defining a European UAS to the Ministries of Defence of France, Germany and Italy.

The proposal seeks to define the new MALE (medium altitude long endurance) drone for Europe as per the requirements of the partnering nations, and its development in coordination with their armed forces and the European industry.

The Definition Phase has been prepared by joint development teams of Airbus Defence and Space, Dassault Aviation and Alenia Aermacchi and is backed by an industrial agreement on workshare and a cooperative agreement to start the MALE2020 programme.

It also serves to avoid costly additional developments during production and to reduce financial and development risks to a minimum.

The proposal to develop the new drone system for Europe by the three major defence contractors had first come up during the Paris Air Show in June 2013.

Later in November, France, Germany and other European countries formed a "drone users club" to develop a rival to the US and Israeli unmanned aircraft that dominate the field.

"We have reached an important milestone for the development of a European MALE Drone. The need for our armed forces is indisputable. We are highly motivated to continue our discussions with the Ministries of Defence and are looking forward to launch this first step soon," Bernhard Gerwert, CEO Airbus Defence and Space, said.

"It is a unique opportunity to develop in Europe this strategic capacity. For the first time industry starts a project by having a full agreement on the general work share of the MALE2020 programme," CEO of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier, said.

Once the partnering nations finalise the definition phase of the programme, a commitment by them on the further development of the European UAS has then to be made which could lead to an affordable and certifiable solution ready by 2020, the three companies said in a statement.


Europe  UAV  Dassault  Airbus  Alenia  
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