What’s coming next for Airbus Defence’s current product portfolio

Gastón Dubois

Airbus Defence and Space roadmap 2022

During Airbus Trade Media Briefing 22, taking place today through tomorrow, Airbus Defence and Space senior executives provide a comprehensive update on its programs, products and major industry changes.

Let’s take a look at the future of Airbus Defence’s major product programs.

A400M

Airbus Defence

Airbus is completing the final steps in the development of the A400M’s aerial delivery capabilities, such as automatic combat unloading and high-altitude airdrops (cargo, parachutists).

New capabilities are being developed, such as firefighting, whose feasibility/suitability demonstration was completed in July 2022, being able to offload 20 tons of water in a single pass.

Another future capability of the A400M will be to become a mothership for the launch of Remote Carrier unmanned aircraft, which Airbus Defence & Space is developing as part of the FCAS program. It is expected that an A400M can deploy between 40 and 50 of the light version of these remote systems, or between 8 and 12 of the heavy models.

A330MRTT

A330 MRTT Airbus Defence and Space
Image: Airbus Defence and Space

With the entry into service with the Singapore Air Force of the first SMART MRTT, Airbus became a pioneer in introducing automation into the complex in-flight refueling process through its A3R system.

The next steps in the evolution of the A330MRTT will be:

  • Automation towards the A4R system, the next technological step after the A3R, with a demonstrator developed by Airbus Upnext (Auto’Mate).
  • New self-protection systems, improving situational awareness and aircraft survivability, adapted to any mission.
  • Expanded connectivity to new roles and functions in the future battlespace under development for the FCAS program.

C295

Spain

C295MPA
Image: Airbus Defence and Space

The Spanish Ministry of Defense and the Spanish Air and Space Force have selected the C295 MPA to carry out the missions currently performed by the P-3 Orion fleet, which will be retired at the end of 2022.

Airbus and the Spanish Directorate General of Armament and Material are currently in the final stages of defining the configuration of its C295 MPA version, expecting the contract to be signed in the first quarter of 2023.

Airbus says the future Spanish C295 MPAs will be equipped with a more modern mission system, including the latest-generation FITS tactical system and state-of-the-art sensors and armament to conduct Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations.

In addition, the CN235 search and rescue (SAR) and maritime patrol (MPA) patrol aircraft are also expected to be replaced by the C295.

India

Airbus C295 Make in India
Image: Airbus Defence and Space

The definition and design phase of the Indian version of the C295 successfully passed the Preliminary Design Review and Critical Design Review stages. The groundbreaking ceremony was also held to inaugurate the final assembly line in India.

The first Indian Air Force (IAF) C295 will be delivered in the third quarter of 2023, including all Indian design changes and modifications.

Eurofighter

Eurofighter Luftwaffe Rapid Pacific 2022
Photo: Luftwaffe.

A contract was signed with Spain for the purchase of 20 new Eurofighter jets, which under the Halcón program, will replace the EF-18 Hornet fighters operating from the Canary Islands.  The first fuselage of the 38 new German Eurofighters of the Quadriga project was also produced.

The upcoming launch of the weapon system upgrade contract, known as P4E, is expected, which will have fully integrated and operational E-Scan AESA radars, along with additional capabilities.

More importantly, the Eurofighter Long Term Evolution (LTE) study was launched, which will underpin the future development of this weapon system.

The Eurofighter LTE EF will be an integral part of the “system of systems” and a reliable workhorse within the FCAS program. It will feature improved cockpit and connectivity, new sensors and weapons; an electronic warfare version will be developed for SEAD/DEAD missions.

Eurofighter LTE

In the future, Eurofighters will be integrated into the future combat system and will work in coordination with the new 6th generation aircraft, autonomous Remote Carrier systems, etc.

Eurodrone

Eurodrone Euromale Airbus Defence
Eurodrone Euromale. Image: Airbus Defence & Space

Following its approval and subsequent contract signature in March of this year, the Eurodrone project continues in its phase of distributing the different work packages and calls for tenders throughout Europe.

Aliaca

Naval drone Aliaca. Image: Airbus Defence & Space

It is a light tactical drone, in operation in the French Navy. The Aliaca ER, with a longer range and new thermal vision equipment, is under development.

In a nutshell, this is the information provided by Airbus Defence on the roadmap for its most important programs. Many of these products, such as the Eurofighter, the A400M, the A330MRTT or the Eurodrone, will eventually be integrated into the future “combat cloud” being designed for the FCAS program, and will work as a team, with a level of information generation and exchange never before experienced.

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