By Sangeeta Saxena
Ottobrunn, Munich. 04 July 2016.
Drones seem to be the next big thing to be marketed for defence needs. These unmanned vehicles have been evolving over the years with improved design, significant operating ranges and tenure, and better data-processing capabilities. They can process high-resolution videos and images and other surveillance data in real-time and promise to be great assets to the defence of the nation.

Jana Rosenmann, Head, UAV, Airbus Defence & Space said, “ even with thousands of drones flying, the market was still fragmented. We are seriously looking at as to what is the driver for consolidation of this market? This is a great market opportunity but with strong uncertainty. Market for commercial UAVs is estimated to grow to nearly $17 billion by 2020. ” She was addressing journalists at the Trade Media Briefing (TMB) here.

Airbus Defence and Space is to sign a definition study contract for the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) remotely-piloted air system (RPAS) by mid-July, ahead of the commencement of development work on the project in September.

Jana, said the definition phase of the programme that will follow the contract signature would focus on common operational capabilities, top-level technical requirements, overall system, design, as well as the future MALE RPAS development and production effort.

OCCAR the contracting agency, representing the MoD’s of Spain, France, Italy and Germany will define Common Operational Capabilities, Top Level Technical Requirement, Overall System Design for the Future MALE RPAS Development and Production Program. The launch of this programme is expected by the end of 2018.

The European MALE RPAS/MALE2020 is one of a number of unmanned aircraft projects that are currently being pursued by Airbus DS, with others including the Zephyr pseudo-satellite and Future Combat Air System, which is being billed as a future replacement for Germany’s Panavia Tornado manned combat aircraft.

Jana Rosenmann is Senior Vice President, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and a member of the Airbus Defence & Space Military Aircraft Executive Committee. Nominated in October 2015, Jana has operational responsibility for Airbus Defence & Space UAS programs, being responsible for their delivery as well as the development of future programs in both the military and commercial UAS sector. Jana leads a crossnational team based in Germany, France, Spain and the UK. Jana most recently served as Senior Vice President Head of Strategy, responsible for developing and driving the implementation of the Airbus Defence & Space global strategic positioning.

The news of the day is that Airbus has started the development of Zephyr T twin tail recently which promises to be an asset to any force which has it. ZEPHYR , the High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite has been a part of UK MoD Operational Capability which has purchased two Zephyr S (single tail) for a capability demonstration in 2017 and has an option for a 3rd aircraft. It is capable of operating in the stratosphere above weather and regular air traffic, has achieved 900 flight hours so far and the longest uninterrupted flight more than 14 days.

Jana stated that military market of unmanned systems is in healthy growth and 2/3rd are estimated to be in the US, half of it in black programs. Airbus has the Heron 1 Leasing Program for the German Air Force in Afghanistan since 2009. Airbus DS provides UAS Operational Services on three Heron1 UAS with two ground stations in Afghanistan. It offers a set of fleet and flight services as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul.
She informed that Future Combat Air System (FCAS) by Airbus D&S is another small and flexible force multiplier. It “Mules“ as carrier for sensors and weapons to bring about co-operation of high value platforms with Force-Multipliers. Reallocating capabilities from complex / expensive platforms to simple UAVs and thus multiplying effects technologies in fields of autonomy, artificial Intelligence, swarming, low cost mass production, etc. makes it an enabler.

Airbus Group and Local Motors have launched their first joint pilot project for the co-creation of the next generation of commercial drones, Airbus Group and Local Motors have officially kicked off the ‘Cargo drone challenge’, an open competition to identify and design a premium drone solution to transport quickly urgent medical supplies to people and places that are traditionally difficult to reach. The starting design of this competition would be Airbus Quadcruiser’s hybrid concept, combining the VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) and hovering capabilities of the well-known quad-copter design with the speed and cruise efficiency of a fixed-wing aircraft by using an additional pusher motor.

The top selected projects will then be reviewed before potentially becoming part of an industrial program. Attractive incentives will be awarded along with many opportunities for the top winners.