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MALE RPAS - Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System

The European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) will be operated worldwide to especially support ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions. 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 such sovereignty and will foster the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base.

In August 2016, the MALE RPAS Programme was integrated into OCCAR and the Definition Study (Stage 1) Contract was signed on 26 August 2016 with a Co-Contracting Group composed of Airbus D&S GmbH, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo S.p.A . The aim of the 2 years Definition Study was to define the baseline specifications/design for the future MALE RPAS, providing the basis for its full development, affordable to the Participating States, and optimising operational performance.

The two major milestones of the Definition Study were a System Requirement Review (SRR) and a System Preliminary Design Review (S-PDR); the SRR was achieved in January 2018 and the S-PDR in November 2018.  The S-PDR was to demonstrate the quality and fitness for purpose of the proposed design. Furthermore, in advance of the SRR the Participating States endorsed in July 2017 the baseline configuration “twin-engine turboprop. Air Traffic Integration (ATI) and certification of the MALE RPAS compliant to STANAG 4671 edition 3 were considered also key objectives of the Programme.

The successful conclusion of Definition Study gave the Participating States full confidence that the Development step can be launched with acceptable residual risks.

An Invitation to Tender for the Stage 2 Contract was issued in October 2018 to Airbus D&S GmbH, as Prime Contractor, whereas Airbus S.A.U., Dassault Aviation and Leonardo S.p.A., are Major Sub-Contractors for this Contract.

The subsequent two years were devoted to the offer elaboration and negotiation to ensure that the contract would meet PPS’ expectations in terms of performance, affordability and value for money. The Best and Final Offer for the Stage 2 Contract is expected on Q4 2020; Stage 2 Contract encompasses the development, the production and the initial in-service support (5 years) of 20 systems for a total contract duration of a bit more than 13 years. Contract signature is scheduled shortly after the positive conclusion of the national staffing process. The first flight is expected in 2025 and the first delivery of a system to the first PPS is targeted for 2028.

The European MALE RPAS Programme has been identified by EU Commission as direct award project within the EDIDP Work Programme. The Contribution Agreement between the EU Commission and OCCAR and the Grant Agreement with the industrial consortium composed of the Prime Contractor and the Major Sub-Contractors is planned to be signed respectively by December 2020 and early 2021.


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 Co Contracting Group (CCG) Partners.
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OCCAR-EA MALE RPAS Programme Division

Airbus Defence and Space GmbH

Airbus Defence and Space



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Dassault Aviation