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The MALE RPAS is an indispensable capability to facilitate international conflict prevention and crisis management during all phases of operation – especially in the field of Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR).

Nowadays, most ISR capabilities of the European States rely on non-European Union manufacturers, weakening Europe’s strategic autonomy.

The development of a European MALE RPAS will ensure sovereignty in this area and will foster the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).

The MALE RPAS will be designed to become one of the main pillars of any future combat air system and will offer European industries the opportunity to participate in a large Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programme designed to integrate into civil air traffic and operate in non-segregated airspace.

Since its launch in 2016, the MALE RPAS Programme has successfully passed a number of significant milestones. A Definition Study was initiated to define common requirements between Germany, France, Italy and Spain and was successfully concluded in 2018 with a System Requirement Review (SRR) and a System Preliminary Design Review (SPDR). The subsequent two years were fully devoted to the offer elaboration and successful negotiation of a global contract covering development, production and initial in-service support of 20 systems with Airbus Defence and Space, Leonardo and Dassault industrial partners. This contract was signed on 24 February 2022. Additionally in 2021, after the MALE RPAS programme received financial support from the European Commission in the frame of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) initiative, OCCAR negotiated and signed with industrial partners a Grant Agreement.

After completion of the first development design reviews (PDR and CDR), the manufacture of the first Prototype is expected to commence in 2024 and the first delivery of serial items to PPS is targeted  by end of the decade.

MALE RPAS Participating States

Main system performances

  • Main Missions: ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) and armed ISTAR
  • 24/7 day and night mission capability
  • All weather capability
  • Efficient maintenance
  • Interoperability with existing and future defence systems
  • The system shall obtain full airworthiness certification and ATI (Air Traffic Integration) capability in non-segregated airspace
For further information about the MALE RPAS Programme, please contact the Programme Division or the Industrial Partners.
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OCCAR-EA MALE RPAS Programme Division

Airbus Defence and Space GmbH

Airbus Defence and Space



Piazza Monte Grappa n. 4 - 00195 Roma


Dassault Aviation