The Airbus A400M has demonstrated an airborne launch of a drone fulfilling a vital function for the Future Combat Air System. During a recent test, an A400M multi-role airlifter has deployed an Airbus-built Do-DT25 drone from its opened rear cargo ramp while in flight for the first time.
A flight test crew from the German Air Force and Airbus worked together for this demonstration. During the flight test, the drone, which served as a stand-in for a Remote Carrier, was deployed over northern Germany. Its parachute opened shortly after the launch, delivering it safely to the ground. Throughout the test, the drone was connected and transmitted data to its mother aircraft, the A400M. The new Modular Airborne Combat Cloud Services (MACCS), also an Airbus product, enabled full connectivity between the airlifter and the drone.
The successful test flight validates the capability of the airlifter to air-launch drones. In the future, such unmanned aircraft, called Remote Carriers, can serve as force multipliers for various missions, keeping pilots out of harm’s way. Manned-unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) will allow Remote Carriers to operate in concert with manned aircraft, opening up new tactics scenarios to surprise, deceive, discourage, saturate and strike opponents.
Airbus will continue to validate the A400M as an airborne launch platform for Remote Carriers, envisioning the ability to deploy large numbers of these drones. Ultimately, the large cargo compartment of a multi-role airlifter is expected to be able to hold 40 or more Remote Carriers.
The company says by bringing Remote Carriers closer to the fight, an A400M will provide the numbers in terms of flying platforms for a Future Combat System to serve multiple missions, even in a well-protected environment. The next flight test is planned to happen this year.