Airbus successfully launched a drone from the open cargo door of an A400M Atlas multi-role transport aircraft. 

The air-launch of combat drones is one of the planned capabilities of the “system of systems” currently being developed by France, Germany and Spain called the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). These support drones, dubbed remote carriers by the various companies working on the FCAS, will be deployed as a swarm to work conjointly with manned aircraft, extending both their targeting and striking range. 

The test, which took place in northern Germany, was carried out by technicians from Airbus and the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. It saw the A400M deploy a target drone acting as a mockup of future remote carriers, Airbus announced on February 21, 2022. 

“Throughout the test, the drone was connected and transmitting data to the A400M ‘mother aircraft’,” Airbus explained in a press release. “This data transfer illustrates how Remote Carriers can be connected to a combat cloud network, providing vital information by serving the role of “eyes and ears” over the battlefield, whilst also enabling them to be tasked by the manned aircraft’s operators during their missions.” 

Unmanned systems are one of the six pillars composing the FCAS so far. It was entrusted to Airbus as prime contractor, with the missile manufacturer MBDA as the main partner. 

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The French General Directorate of Armaments completed a first test for the development of the engine that will power the Future Combat Air System aircraft.