Airbus presents the prototype of its combat drone armed and guided by the pilot of another fighter, such as the Eurofighter

Airbus plans to present its new unmanned aircraft concept, called Wingman, at the ILA International Aerospace Exhibition taking place in Berlin until next Sunday. In military aviation, a “wingman” is a pilot of another aircraft who protects and supports the flight leader, offers more tactical options and therefore contributes to the success of the mission.

As for the Airbus prototype, this drone will function in a very similar way, except that it is neither a pilot nor a fighter plane piloted from within, but rather a fighter-type drone that will be guided by a pilot. on a current fighter aircraft such as the Eurofighter and will be able to take on high-risk mission tasks that would pose a greater threat to exclusively manned aircraft.

The 1:1 full-scale model that Airbus is displaying in Berlin in its static display at ILA is similar to a “show car” used as a design exercise by the automotive industry. The model shows all the expected capabilities required, such as low observability, the integration of various weapons, advanced sensors, connectivity and teaming solutions. As with “show cars”, not everything on display can make it to series production, but it is true that the model on display at ILA Berlin will serve as a basis and catalyst to drive the design requirements of each generation. of the Wingman.

This drone aims to augment the capabilities of current manned fighter aircraft with unmanned platforms that can carry weapons.

“The German Air Force has expressed a clear need for an unmanned aircraft to fly with its fighter aircraft and support its missions before the Future Combat Air System is operational in 2040”said Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defense and Space. “Our Wingman concept is the answer. We will push and refine even further and“This innovation made in Germany so that we can ultimately offer the German Air Force an affordable solution with the performance it needs to maximize the effects and multiply the power of its fighter fleet for the 2030s.”

Wingman duties may vary from reconnaissance to locking on targets and attacking targets on the ground or in the air with precision-guided munitions or missiles. The pilots of manned aircraft that act as “command fighters” will always have control of the mission. They are always the final authority in decision making, while benefiting from the protection and reduced risk exposure offered by the delegation of tactical tasks to unmanned systems. An additional approach is to increase overall combat mass in an affordable way so that air forces can match the number of opposing forces in pairs or near pairs in conflicts.