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Airbus Demonstrates Manned-Unmanned Teaming for Future Air Combat Systems

The ability to control unmanned systems from a manned aircraft is an important “force multiplier” in Airbus’ vision for future air power say the company. This know-how has been confirmed in a dynamic and interactive way during manned-unmanned teaming (MUT) test flight campaigns successfully performed by the company. These campaigns included demonstrations with five Airbus-built Do-DT25 target drones controlled from a mission group commander who was airborne in a manned command and control (C2) aircraft. Flown in a test zone of Germany’s Baltic Sea area, the MUT trial flights served multiple purposes, including validating such elements as connectivity, human-machine interface, and the concept of teaming intelligence through mission group management. For the aspect of teaming intelligence, multiple capabilities and enabling technologies are required at sufficient maturity levels – from teaming/swarming algorithms and new sensors to mission management systems for command and control assistance by the manned aircraft’s crew. The Airbus MUT demonstrations brought together several of the company’s programme and product lines, with the main development and test phases conducted during a short timeframe and at low cost – supported by an agile, rapid prototyping environment and a risk-mitigation approach. Expertise gained during the manned-unmanned teaming test flight campaigns will be applied by Airbus to develop Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS).” Manned-unmanned-teaming is expected to increase the mission efficiency of future airborne systems in many ways. Equipped with sensors, the swarm of unmanned systems can provide situational awareness to a mission group commander located a safe distance away aboard the manned aircraft.

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