Airbus to unveil Wingman Nex-Gen Collaborative Combat Drone Concept at Berlin Air Show

Airbus to unveil Wingman Nex-Gen Collaborative Combat Drone Concept at Berlin Air Show

Airbus Defence and Space is set to unveil its new “Wingman” drone concept at the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) currently taking place in Berlin from June 5 to 9, 2024. This drone, designed to accompany manned fighter jets such as the Eurofighter, aims to enhance tactical capabilities and mission efficiency by undertaking high-risk tasks. This innovative concept redefines the traditional role of a wingman in aerial combat operations by using an unmanned platform. Be sure to follow our editorial team’s coverage on-site in the coming days for more information and analysis.

The “Wingman” is not a typical aircraft. Unlike a traditional manned fighter, this drone is controlled by a pilot within a combat aircraft, such as the Eurofighter. It is designed to carry out high-risk missions that would normally pose greater dangers to manned aircraft. Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, emphasized the strategic importance of this innovation. “The German Air Force has expressed a clear need for an unmanned aircraft that can support the missions of its manned fighter jets before the Future Combat Air System becomes operational by 2040,” said Schoellhorn. “Our Wingman concept is designed to meet this demand and to enhance Germany’s aerial combat capabilities into the 2030s.”

From June 5 to 9, 2024, Airbus will display a 1:1 scale model of the Wingman at ILA. This model, similar to a “concept car” in the automotive industry, showcases potential features such as stealth capabilities, armament integration, advanced sensors, and connectivity solutions. Although not all features on display may enter production, the model serves as both a foundation and a catalyst for the future design and development of the Wingman.

The Wingman drone is designed to perform a variety of tasks including reconnaissance, jamming operations, and engaging ground or aerial targets with precision-guided munitions or missiles. Pilots in manned “command fighters” will retain ultimate control and decision-making authority over missions, thus ensuring strategic human oversight while minimizing risk.

This innovative concept also focuses on enhancing combat mass in a cost-effective manner, allowing air forces to match and effectively counter the capabilities of peer or near-peer adversaries in conflicts.

As the aerospace community and military forces around the world watch closely, Airbus’s Wingman appears poised to revolutionize the future of combat air operations, offering a glimpse into the next era of aerial warfare. The demonstration at ILA Berlin marks a pivotal moment in military aviation, highlighting Airbus’s commitment to advancing technology and meeting the operational needs of modern air forces.


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