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A400M Becomes “Mothership” for UAVs

A400M Becomes “Mothership” for UAVs

According to the Airbus press release in February, its A400M adds a new capability to its list. An A400M successfully air-launched a Do-DT25 drone from its rear cargo ramp door. The test will enable the A400M platform to serve as a “mothership” for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the future, transporting and launching them to their operational zone. 

During a recent test, an A400M deployed a drone from its opened rear cargo ramp door whilst airborne, validating its ability to air-launch drones. In the future, such unmanned aircraft, called Remote Carriers, can serve as force multipliers for various missions while keeping the pilots out of harm’s way. Manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) will allow the Remote Carriers to operate in concert with manned aircraft, opening new fields of tactics to surprise, deceive, deter, saturate and strike opponents. During the A400M flight test, an Airbus-built Do-DT25 drone, acting as a surrogate Remote Carrier, was released over a test range in Northern Germany. Shortly after the launch, the drone’s parachute opened, delivering it safely to the ground. The drone was connected and transmitted data to the A400M “mother aircraft” throughout the test. 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.A400M Becomes “Mothership” for UAVsPreviously, Airbus also demonstrated the control of five Do-DT25 drones by a mission group commander who was airborne in a manned command and control aircraft. Validating such elements, as connectivity, human-machine interface, and the concept of teaming intelligence through mission group management, also constitute key steps towards using Remote Carriers as force multipliers within the Future Combat Air System.A400M Becomes “Mothership” for UAVsThe United States has made progress on similar tests. DARPA plans to air-launch the UAV and recover in the air without landing on the ground with the Gremlins Programme.A400M Becomes “Mothership” for UAVs

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