BRUSSELS --- Since December 2013, France, Germany and Italy have confirmed their full support for the implementation of the European Council’s conclusions regarding the development of a European MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) drone by 2025.
Our recent commitments on operational theaters, and political and humanitarian crises in our vicinity, have illustrated the critical nature of this capacity and the need for autonomy regarding its use and sustainment.
Following a joint proposal made by the industries of our three countries in 2014, and in order to keep to the tight schedule established by the European Council, the French, German and Italian Ministers of Defence today have officially recorded their intention to jointly conduct a definition study to prepare the development phase of a European MALE drone.
The purpose of this study, which should last about two years, is to determine a set of operational prerequisites and to develop a prototype to meet common requirements in terms of performance, schedule and cost.
The main functional parameters that will guide the definition phase are airworthiness and certification, so to permit the drone’s insertion into European airspace, as well as the competitiveness of the product itself.
Assuming a future decision to pursue the development and acquisition phases, the first system could be delivered by 2025. Once it becomes operational, the system will meet the operational requirements for long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, using various payloads.
The contract for the definition phase will be awarded in the course of this year, with OCCAR being responsible for program management and the European Defence Agency (EDA) providing support in the areas of air traffic insertion, airworthiness and certification.
Germany, France and Italy are prepared to include other European nations during the program’s development and acquisition phases, with the support of EDA during this future expansion phase of the project.
Through this program, which meets the objectives set by the European Council, Germany, France and Italy are engaging in a process of reinforcing European defense, and are supporting a more competitive defense industry, which will develop and sustain key industrial capabilities and know-how.