On 24/02/2022, OCCAR-EA Director, Matteo Bisceglia, on behalf of the German, French, Italian and Spanish Participating States, was delighted to sign the European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) Stage 2 Contract with Airbus Defence & Space GmbH represented by the CEO, Michael Schoellhorn.
This important contract for Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement (OCCAR) and European defence encompasses the development and manufacture of 20 Medium Altitude Long Endurance air systems and more than 5 years of initial in-service support. The European MALE RPAS will offer capabilities that are beyond state of the art, especially in safety, information security and in the field of Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR). The manufacture of the first Prototype is expected to commence in 2024.
This critical cooperative programme draws on the expertise of three major sub-contractors (Dassault Aviation S.A., Leonardo S.p.A and Airbus Defence & Space SAU) and, through an open tendering process, mid-cap European system suppliers in the value chain and across the entire supply base. The early phase of the programme is co-funded by the European Union through the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) with the aim to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy and sovereignty.
The European MALE RPAS Stage 1 Contract, a Definition Study, was launched in 2016 to define common requirements between Germany, France, Italy and Spain and was successfully concluded in 2018 with the System Preliminary Design Review. The subsequent years have been spent ensuring that the follow-on Stage 2 contract would meet Programme Participating States’ expectations in terms of performance, affordability and value for money. In that respect, the successful completion of this negotiation phase was only made possible thanks to the unwavering drive of OCCAR-EA, nations and industry teams to adhere to established cooperation procurement best practices. Demonstrating that the only way for nations to be able to acquire complex capabilities such as MALE RPAS is through cooperation. As such, the MALE RPAS programme includes but is not limited to a common configuration, a single final assembly line, a common training and support solution and the firm determination to maintain a common organisation to manage all certification, qualification and accreditation activities.