The European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance, Remotely Piloted Aircraft System), is a joint European programme to answer future UAS requirements.
It has been launched by Leonardo, Airbus D&S and Dassault Aviation as a joint industrial-government initiative. The programme is backed by the governments of France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Managed by European OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation), the MALE RPAS will be operated worldwide to support ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions, both wide area and in-theatre.
This is the first UAS designed for flight in non-segregated airspace. The nations agreed on the air vehicle configuration in mid-2017. MALE RPAS is based on a twin-turboprop propulsion system, which will supply ample on-board energy for the mission system. It will also provide redundancy to limit restrictions when operating over European densely populated ground and unrestricted airspace.
In January 2018, MALE RPAS successfully passed its System Requirements Review. This initiated the second phase of the definition study to lead to a System Preliminary Design Review, milestone reached in November 2018, providing the quality and fitness for the proposed design.
‘Air Traffic Integration’ and certification are key objectives. The aim is to give partners full confidence to launch development with acceptable risks.
Preparations for the next stage (development, production and initial in-service support) are already well under way. Entry-into-service is planned for the middle of the next decade.