Germany selects consortium to develop key SCAF technologies and ‘remote carriers’
Airbus has joined forces with Future Combat Mission System (FCMS) and MBDA Germany to develop key technologies for the Next-Generation Weapon Systems (NGWS) programme after the companies signed a contract with the German defence procurement agency (BAAINBw).
As a central part of the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System FCAS/SCAF programme, the NGWS includes a next-generation combat aircraft (New Generation Fighter or NGF) and UAS (Remote Carrier or RC), which will be connected via a data cloud to other systems and platforms.
The effort, carried out on behalf of the German MoD, will attempt to complement the NGWS programme as it intends to develop and demonstrate complementary basic technologies and partial functionalities for the use of NGWS from 2040.
Speaking to Shephard, Sven-Michael Wundenberg, sales and business development manager for air systems at MBDA Germany, said the current phase of the effort would focus on technology maturation.
The official added that there were certain areas that the NGWS and SCAF programmes do not cover, and which would be addressed under the newly announced research and technology (R&T) project.
Developing expendable remote carrier (ERC)
MBDA said the ERC was an integral part of the SCAF programme, and its main purpose was to confuse the enemy and lure its air defence system out. Neither a drone nor a missile, the uncrewed asset would bring a set of new capabilities to the NGWS programme, according to MBDA.
The fundamental concept would use electronic reconnaissance and communication devices to confuse enemy air defence systems while communicating with friendly pilots in real time.
MBDA, who has been developing the remote carriers, said they could be used on a large spectrum of missions, including air-to-air strikes, deep-strike, tactical strikes and air-to-sea missions.
The company has been running two main activities under its remote carrier effort, with one activity seeking to build an ERC demonstrator and mature the technology.
Concurrently, the multinational firm has been considering what the operational project should look like, with the main objective to fly a remote carrier demonstrator in 2029 – which will also be when the second phase of NGWS has been scheduled to begin – as MBDA revealed in a video published during the Paris Air Show 2023.
The demonstrator ERC is set to be 4m long, weigh some 400kg, fly at subsonic speed and have a one-hour endurance, MBDA said.
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