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Airbus developed a UAV launcher for A400M transport aircraft


Airbus has developed a launcher to release unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from an Airbus A400M military transport aircraft.

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Airbus developed a UAV launcher for A400M transport aircraft 01 Imagine a future combat scenario where muliple remote carriers are required in the first days of a future combat and you have A400M available in almost all european nations and you could launch UAVs -remote carrriers in this case- from the transport aircraft." said Andreas Heekman, project leader UAV launcher (Picture source: Airbus)


The development of the UAV Launcher project has been performed in a non-traditional way in only half a year in a close cooperation between Airbus, DLR, Geradts GmbH and SFL GmbH. It included concept, development and production of a UAV Launcher prototype for the A400M.

"We have developped a UAV launching mechanism to launch from a flying A400M. Imagine a future combat scenario where muliple remote carriers are required in the first days of a future combat and you have A400M available in almost all european nations and you could launch UAVs -remote carrriers in this case- from the transport aircraft." said Andreas Heekman, project leader UAV launcher.


Airbus developed a UAV launcher for A400M transport aircraft 02 The development of the UAV Launcher project has been performed in a non-traditional way in only half a year in a close cooperation between Airbus, DLR, Geradts GmbH and SFL GmbH. It included concept, development and production of a UAV Launcher prototype for the A400M (Picture source: Airbus)


"We had two main challenges in our project. One is time: we only had six months to go from a concept to a flight demontstator (...). And we had to work remotely due to COVID (...). And secondly safe preparation, to perform a safe separation of the UAV from the A400M trough simulation and also trough safety analysis. We have assessed all safety scenarios and developped safety procedures for the crew." he added.

The A400M Atlas is a European four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft that was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the French Transall C-160 and the American Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules.