European defense companies unveiled a first full-scale model of their planned Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) drone at the Berlin air show.
The companies – Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo – said on Thursday that the unveiling showed their commitment to the project to build a European version of an unmanned aerial system.
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The medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft rides on a twin-turboprop propulsion system and will come in a strike-capable configuration when it reaches the actual flying stage in the mid-2020s. Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have a hand in the program, though only the first three are considered the principal main industry partners, with Germany’s Airbus in the lead.
Large drones operated by European armed forces are mostly based on U.S. or Israeli designs.
“This is important for European sovereignty,” Benoit Dussaugey, Senior Executive Vice President, International at Dassault Aviation told reporters at the show.
“We believe it’s a very modern and competitive configuration and we expect there are export opportunities in the future,” Airbus Defence and Space CEO Dirk Hoke said.
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France’s Thales, Italy’s Elettronica, Germany’s Hensoldt, and Spain’s Indra earlier this week said they would team up to offer intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance functions for the drone.