Airbus Unveils Wingman Concept, Redefining Manned-Unmanned Teaming in Military Aviation

The Wingman is a drone that operates with manned fighter jets and receives its tasks and missions from a pilot in a command aircraft such as the Eurofighter.

(IN BRIEF) Airbus introduces its pioneering Wingman concept at the International Aerospace Exhibition ILA in Berlin, showcasing a revolutionary unmanned fighter-type drone designed to operate alongside manned combat aircraft like the Eurofighter. The Wingman, guided by pilots from manned aircraft, enhances mission flexibility by undertaking high-risk tasks and boasts capabilities including low observability, advanced sensors, and armament integration. This concept aims to augment the capabilities of current manned combat aircraft, meeting the evolving needs of the German Air Force and other military entities, while redefining the landscape of modern military aviation with its innovative approach to manned-unmanned teaming.

(PRESS RELEASE) BERLIN, 4-Jun-2024 — /EuropaWire/ — At the forefront of innovation in military aviation, Airbus is set to unveil its groundbreaking Wingman concept at the International Aerospace Exhibition ILA in Berlin. Drawing inspiration from the role of a traditional “Wingman” pilot, who supports and protects the lead aircraft, Airbus introduces a paradigm shift by introducing an unmanned fighter-type drone designed to operate in tandem with manned combat aircraft such as the Eurofighter.

Unlike conventional fighter jets, the Wingman operates autonomously under the guidance of a pilot from a manned aircraft, enhancing mission flexibility and effectiveness by undertaking high-risk tasks that might pose a threat to manned-only aircraft. This revolutionary concept will be showcased through a 1:1 model displayed at ILA, akin to a “show car” in the automotive industry, illustrating envisioned capabilities including low observability, integration of various armaments, advanced sensors, connectivity, and teaming solutions.

While not all features showcased may transition to series production, the model serves as a cornerstone for driving design requirements across successive generations of the Wingman. Emphasizing the Wingman’s role in augmenting the capabilities of manned combat aircraft, Airbus CEO of Defence and Space, Michael Schoellhorn, underscores its relevance in meeting the evolving needs of the German Air Force.

“The German Air Force has articulated a clear need for unmanned aircraft to complement manned fighter jets prior to the operationalization of the Future Combat Air System in 2040,” states Schoellhorn. “Our Wingman concept addresses this need, offering an affordable solution with the requisite performance to amplify the effectiveness of the fighter fleet for the 2030s.”

The Wingman’s multifaceted tasks span reconnaissance, target jamming, and precision strikes on ground and aerial targets using guided munitions or missiles. Manned aircraft pilots, designated as “command fighters,” retain ultimate authority over missions while leveraging unmanned systems to mitigate risk exposure. Additionally, the Wingman contributes to bolstering combat mass affordably, enabling air forces to match adversaries’ capabilities in conflicts.

The unveiling of the Wingman concept underscores Airbus’s commitment to innovation and technology, redefining the landscape of modern military aviation.

Media Contacts:

Christian Dörr
External Communications – Airbus Defence
Phone: +49 170 560 2668

Beatriz Lozano
External Communications – Airbus Defence and Space
Phone: +34 651 862 435

Bruno Daffix
External Communications – Airbus
Phone: +33 6 48 09 96 50

SOURCE: Airbus


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