Spain finances the MALE RPAS – MEDIUM ALTITUDE LONG ENDURANCE REMOTELY PILOTED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM project and joins Italy, France and Germany with a 23% stake for a total of 3.2 billion euros.
The program is managed by the OCCAR (Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation), in which Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo participate.
The MALE RPAS is an indispensable capability to facilitate international conflict prevention and crisis management during all phases of operation – especially in the field of Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR).
Nowadays, most ISR capabilities of the European States rely on non-European Union manufacturers, weakening Europe’s strategic autonomy.
The development of a European MALE RPAS will ensure sovereignty in this area and will foster the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).
The MALE RPAS will be designed to become one of the main pillars of any future combat air system and will offer European industries the opportunity to participate in a large Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programme designed to integrate into civil air traffic and operate in non-segregated airspace.
Since its launch in 2016, the MALE RPAS Programme has successfully passed a number of significant milestones. A Definition Study was initiated to define common requirements between Germany, France, Italy and Spain and was successfully concluded in 2018 with a System Requirement Review (SRR) and a System Preliminary Design Review (SPDR).
The subsequent two years were fully devoted to the offer elaboration and successful negotiation of a global contract covering development, production and initial in-service support of 20 systems with Airbus Defence and Space, Leonardo and Dassault industrial partners.
The programme participating states intend to finalise their national staffing to allow OCCAR to sign this global contract before end 2021. Additionally in 2021, after the MALE RPAS programme received financial support from the European Commission in the frame of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) initiative, OCCAR negotiated and signed with industrial partners a Grant Agreement. After completion of the first development design reviews (PDR and CDR), the first flight is expected in 2026 and the first delivery of serial items to PPS is targeted for 2028.