MBDA presents Expendable Remote Carrier at Paris Air Show 2023

In a bid to address the mounting challenges faced by Western countries in maintaining air superiority, the European missile manufacturer MBDA has presented its Expendable Remote Carrier system during the Paris Air Show 2023.

With the growing concern over sending manned aircraft into high-risk situations, combat drones offer a solution that ensures the safety of personnel while maintaining or even enhancing combat effectiveness.

Being part of a team with various combat drones is one of the defining features of all known upcoming sixth-generation fighter jets. For the Future Combat Air system program developed by France, Germany, and Spain, these combat drones are known as Remote Carriers.

Within the FCAS’s pillar 3, the Remote Carriers are categorized as Recoverable Remote Carriers (RRC) developed by Airbus, and Expendable Remote Carriers (ERC) under the leadership of MBDA.

Both concepts intend to bridge the gap between traditional aircraft and unmanned systems, and increase the operational potential for fighters, ships, and maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).

The compact design of the ERC allows them to be seamlessly carried by fighter aircraft. MBDA is exploring multiple sizes for the ERC, allowing a fighter to carry it either in its weapons bay or on a hardpoint. Airbus’s RRC will also be capable of employing the ERC.

Unlike traditional ‘fire and forget’ systems, the ERCs act as information-gathering platforms during combat, enabling real-time situational awareness and enhanced decision-making.

They are designed to operate alone, or in ‘packs’ of two to four. Their exact functions and capabilities may vary, with an emphasis on payload modularity from intelligence gathering to communication relay, or even electronic warfare.

“The system’s payload modularity allows for the integration of the appropriate sensors tailored to specific missions,” Jean Judde de Lariviere, head of FCAS at MBDA, explained during a briefing. “The stealth capability will also be optional, depending on the mission requirements. […] During a saturating attack, for example, we will want the enemy to see the ERC.”

The subprogram is still in the design phase, which should last three years. The first flight of an MBDA ERC is expected for 2029, during the second phase of the FCAS program.

author avatar
Clement Charpentreau
Editor-in-chief[br][br] Clement joined the AeroTime editorial team in 2018 after honing his journalism skills in newsrooms across France. Clement has a particular interest in the role of the aviation industry in international relations. He reports mainly on developments in defense and security technology, and aviation safety. Clement is based in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Related Posts

AeroTime is on YouTube

Subscribe to the AeroTime Hub channel for exclusive video content.

Subscribe to AeroTime Hub