Airbus Secures Flight Management Computers, Vision Systems Suppliers for Eurodrone

Airbus has confirmed two new suppliers for the Eurodrone, pictured here at the ILA Berlin air show in the form of a mockup at Airbus’ static display. (Photo courtesy of Airbus)

Airbus Defence and Space has secured two new technology supplier agreements with Kappa Optronics and Saab for Eurodrone, the next generation military unmanned aircraft system (UAS) program that the French manufacturer is leading development on.

Saab will be supplying modular computers that will enable “multiple functions” for the Eurodrone’s flight management and airspace integration systems, according to an announcement made by the Swedish aerospace and defense manufacturer last week. That award comes several weeks after Airbus signed an agreement with Kappa Optronics, the German aviation camera maker, to provide vision systems for the Eurodrone.

Kappa Optronics and Saab are the latest in a series of supplier agreements established by Airbus following its signing of the Eurodrone global contract with the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) in February. Under the agreement reached in February, Airbus is serving as the industry prime for Eurodrone while representing Airbus Defence and Space S.A.U in Spain, Dassault Aviation in France, and Leonardo S.p.A. in Italy as the three major sub-contractors. OCCAR signed the agreement on behalf of the launch nations, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain to acquire 20 Eurodrone systems and five years of initial in-service support, while seeking to develop the UAS entirely using European technologies.

Johannes Overhues, co-shareholder and CEO of Kappa Optronics, with José-Maria Hernandez-Garcia and Miguel Angel Escudero Garcia from Airbus DS with the signed Eurodrone contract they announced in June. (Photo, courtesy of Kappa Optronics)

Airbus describes Eurodrone as a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) remotely piloted aircraft that will be tasked with supporting Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, homeland security operations, and other future defense needs. Each individual Eurodrone consists of three unmanned aircraft controlled by a single ground station.

The selection of Kappa will be the company’s second major supplier agreement with Airbus; it already supplies the camera system for the A330 MRRT. A representative for Saab told Avionics International in an emailed statement that the computer they’re providing as part of their Eurodrone selection is a “multiple processor” system.

“The solution is based on extensive Background IP from Saabs existing Safety Critical Computer platform product line including among other features a Cross Channel Data Link solution similar to the solution in the similar computer Saab once developed for Airbus for the Talarion program,” the representative said. “First delivery from Saab is due 2024.”

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