A major milestone in the European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) programme was attained with the achievement of the System Preliminary Design Review last month.

This milestone follows the European Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) inviting Airbus Defence and Space on October 31st to submit a Tender for the Development, Production and initial in Service Support phase of the European MALE RPAS Programme, according to the company.

“This milestone will allow the Participating States and Industry to start developing the System with aligned requirements and a clear picture of the overall system design. As designated future prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space will coordinate the industrial response to the Invitation to Tender (ITT) with the involvement of major Sub-Contractors: Airbus Defence & Space, Dassault Aviation SA and Leonardo.

The ITT gives testimony to the willingness of the Participating States (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) to continue with the programme after a highly successful requirement alignment phase and a convincing demonstration of the quality and fitness for purpose of the proposed design.”

Designed for flight in non-segregated airspace, Airbus say its characteristics will include mission modularity for operational superiority in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, both wide area and in-theatre.

The Participating States’ agreed on the air vehicle configuration in mid-2017, selecting a twin-turboprop propulsion system.

By the middle of the next decade the MALE RPAS will be operated worldwide to perform Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.


      • Mantis was a test vehicle as part of the joint Bae/Dassault Telemos aircraft. Dassault are partners on this project so I assume this is effectively a progression of the Telemos project which was cancelled.

        • Another example of why you cannot go into partnership or development with the back stabbing French. Cannot trust them. It is called theft and stealing UK intellectual property. I do not understand why the UK defence industry falls into this trap repeatedly.
          Partnership with France always means just as programme is reaching fruition it is cancelled, then low and behold less than 18 months later an exact carbon copy of the designed programme is released with great big “made in France” on the side.
          How many more times?
          All together now
          “You cannot trust the French”

      • I thought Mantis was a BAe program only first flew in 2009 it was then decided to us it as a tech demonstrator for Telemos. Looks like Dassault have done their usual trick.

        I wonder how much of the Taranis project we shared.

    • No that is the high endurance medium altitude unpiloted aircraft, or HAEMUPA.

      No, that is the low endurance low altitude remotely piloted aircraft, LELARPA.

      No, sorry its the high endurance high altitude remotely piloted aircraft, HEHARPA
      No on second thought its the….

  1. I thought this MALE program was effectively binned? Hasn’t France purchased the reaper?

    I’m still disgusted at how slow watch keeper has been to enter into service but I don’t see how these UAV programs can be so expensive they need 4 nation collaborative efforts to get caught up in bureaucracy and wranglings over different requirements for.

    • My take on watchkeeper, is its a UAV for a purpose that no longer exists, and was outdated before it even arrived. There still appears to be some desire to get it into service, but clearly not very fast, so i assume they are throwing good money after bad, to avoid admitting it was a complete failure, but avoiding throwing too much hence the slow speed.

    • I believe one of the main problems with Watchkeeper is level of additional software controls required to allow it to fly in non-segregated airspace i.e flying amongst commercial traffic.
      The requirement still is extant for tactical surveillance, however, I don’t think it would last very long in a peer vs peer scenario. It is fitted with either twin FLIR turrets or one turret and the ISAR radar. If the S**t hits the fan, UAVs will be priority targets and although it is relatively small it is not stealthy.

      • The technology used to fly in civilian airspace is invaluable for commercial and defence purposes. UK should be figuring out how to capitalise on the investment.

      • And watchkeeper only has a range of 150km, they should upgrade it to be capable of satellite control anywhere. But Watchkeeper can relay through another watchkeeper drone increasing its range further.

        • I believe like the helicopter there is an agreement over UAV weight limits, that the Army and RAF are governed by. Although Watchkeeper is smaller than a Predator it can do a similar job, their actual roles blur into one i.e. tactical reconnaissance (front line to 100km behind the forward line of troops).

          The French MALE falls into the same category as Reaper and Protector in that it can carry out strategic or persistent surveillance i.e. over 24 hours on station, but also can do close air support. The joint UK-Franco Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) (Mantis/Telemos) was cancelled in favour of the Protector, which is an upgraded Reaper.

  2. Agree with all the above statements. We need to stop and reorient our high tech defence cooperation.

    This joint Dassault Airbus project and the proposed future manned fighter will both struggle to get anywhere without BAE Systems expertise and UK Government money.

    Unfortunately, the weak Government and even weaker opposition we have here in the UK will probably mean we end up scrapping the Tempest project and begging for crumbs from the European table … While paying through the nose.

    We need a new political party in the UK, with a strong and confident, pro British, outward looking ethos.

    The Conservative and Labour parties are detached from their previous core votes and no longer fit for purpose.

    • Unfortunately, that’s the sort of rhetoric Sir Oswald Moseley used to come out with. Sadly, he wasn’t actually wrong…it was his new party that was the problem. It would seem that democracy is only safe in the hands of bungling buffoons!

      • Democracy only safe in the hands of bungaling buffoons?

        What, those buffoons in the process of ignoring the vote of the majority in 2016, in which everyone knew full well what it meant, what was at stake, and what they were doing. despite infantile claims to the contrary from the likes of Blair, Major, et all who can be found on Youtube contradicting themselves with what they say now. Oh, and David Cameron in Parliament.

        “We will do what YOU decide”

        Backed up by an £8 million pound tax payers funded piece of toilet paper put through every door in Britain telling us that HMG think it is wrong, and leaving the EU means LEAVING THE Single Market and Customs Union.

        Democracy safe? REALLY?


    • John Clark

      “We need a new political party in the UK, with a strong and confident, pro British, outward looking ethos. The Conservative and Labour parties are detached from their previous core votes and no longer fit for purpose.”

      Nail on head! And then some! I thought UKIP was that party but without Nigel Farage it has been taken down a more dubious path.

      • Err…Daniele, I was being ironic! Do you really think that UKIP, with Nigel Barrage at its head, is the party to lead Britain towards those sunlit uplands of 20% of GNP defence spending! Oh, of course, you were being ironic too….weren’t you? Please tell me you were being ironic….doctor!!!!!

          • We do need a new political party with leaders that do not sell us down the river, privatise all our national assets, bow on bent knees to the EU and generally run down the UK.
            The speed Cameron resigned, left office as soon as BREXIT became obvious tells you everything really. No staying power or willingness to see through what he started. Rees Mogg would be a great PM he is literate, competent and does not come across as being an Eton educated buffoon.
            I see the FBI have just indicted two Chinese intelligence agents for industrial espionage can we do the same but to the entire French state? Not a single original thought comes out of modern France Vs 75% of all the world’s innovation and new ideas comes from the UK. That is statistical fact. The British are great inventors we just never capitalise on our inventions and sell our intellectual property to whoever offers us 2p for it.

        • Herodotus.

          I didn’t say lead as that is clearly impossible with the FPTP system kept in favour of the big two parties, neither of which offer anything to so many any more.

          I’m on about an alternative than voting for the Monster Raving Loonies, Green, Independents, LibDems, or whoever, which will take enough votes away from the Tories and Labour to get them to take notice.

          UKIP had something they stood for. People agreed with it. They were taking votes from both Labour and the Tories. 2nd place in over 90 seats in 2015 I believe.

          They were an alternative, not to come to power as that is clearly highly unlikely.

          I didn’t think you were being ironic at all, I agree, we are led by bungling buffoons!

          Look at the Gatwick situation. 1 billion pounds lost I read, and the second biggest airport paralysed, because the transport secretary is so paralysed by indecision and H&S terror he does nothing for 20 hours.

          So many government ministers are utterly incompetent. But what difference does it make when we people are actually asked and the decision ignored?

          By the way on a thread way back you made a comment concerning “Right Wing Fascist Pensioners” I replied to that too with the comment it deserves!


          • No, I was being ironic about democracy being safe in the hands of bungling buffoons. The reference was to inter-war politics with the likes of Baldwin and MacDonald vs Oswald Moseley. Moseley had some good ideas and the energy to put them into practise. Unfortunately he was also a fascist!

            As for right-wing pensioners denying a decent future to the youth of this country, I believe this to be absolutely true. And if some of these pensioners have fascistic tendencies then it is a question of whether the cap fits. Many mature UKIP supporters I have met have really repugnant racist attitudes that are not shared by our young people.
            The joke is that Britain needs more taxpayers to pay for these peoples pensions.

            By the way, the Monster Raving Loony Party is more of a viable protest vote than UKIP. Their former leader, ‘Screaming Lord Such’ asked ‘Why is there only one monopolies and mergers commission’? Better than anything that Nigel Garage has come up with!

          • Thanks for the clarification and
            although i know of Moseley and his blackshirts have not read up on him to any extent to comment with any knowledge on policies.

            I’ve met many ” UKIP pensioners” that are nothing of the sort, as I tried explaining to you.

            I also told you there are blacks amongst those at meetings, so the “racist” thing is just mud thrown sticking if you shout it enough times.

            I’d also suggest that those attitudes are typical in older generations generally and should not be labelled to any one party, especially one who’s core reason is independence, not race, which has been explained countless times but falls on deaf ears. The ongoing attitude of elements of the Labour party are typical regarding Jews, they don’t get slandered en mass as racist do they.

            That reason for UKIP existing, independence, goes down like a lead balloon with many so “race” is a convenient stick to beat with.

            Very easy to label UKIP with whatever one likes. I’ll do a Google search soon for Tory and Labour racists.

            I’d suggest Diane Abbott is bigger than most, but of course race always seems to be one way only doesn’t it? Funny that in this PC day and age.

  3. Well guys, looks like we all broadly agree!…

    I am (as we all are) sick and tired of the weak leadership shown by our political parties.

    The UK is crying out for a fresh approach, will someone please show some bloody leadership!

    • Well three of you do anyway. So John its time to start you own party. Not as easy as it would seem. The first past the post electoral system favours only two parties; as the Liberals have found to their cost (Last election win 1910). A good attempt was made in the 1980s; with Thatcher hugely unpopular, Labour riven by Militant and unelectable; the new SDP looked to sweep the board. Then the Falklands war propelled Thatcher to almost sainthood in the eyes of some. Bye-Bye SDP. Will Labour moderates forge a new party…its just not going to happen. So, our choices are: a Boris led Conservative government or the Tony Benn tribute party. God help us all

      • “Boris led Conservative government or the Tony Benn tribute party. God help us all”

        Devil and the deep blue sea, frying pan and fire…
        What a choice
        God help us all!!

        To think I was actually happy the Labour grass roots took its party back from Tony Blair’s true Tory blue, but with a red flag, followers….

        I rather foolishly thought that a proper left, right political balance would fix our previously grey politics….

        For the UK political system to work well, you need a strong govenment (of either colour) and an equally strong and competent opposition to firmly hold them to account.

        How wrong I was …. we now have an incompetent govenment and a laughably piss poor opposition, blind leading the bloody blind!

        Well, I’ll stick my name forward then guys,
        I’ve still got my 1980’s mirror sunglasses somewhere, all I need is to grow a dodgy tach, a Generals outfit and I’ll declare myself El Presidento!

        I’ll get us a great BREXIT deal, double the Royal Navy and take back Brittany into the bargain!

        All before Christmas too….

        • Yes John, Gloomy days indeed. As a lifelong Labour voter, I view the current state of the Labour Party with particular sadness. Labour, like the Conservative Party, is a broad church and should reflect that. By the way, you don’t need a generalissimo outfit to be leader…Trump seems to be doing well without one!


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