(ORDO NEWS) — In terms of size and weight, it is seriously larger than the Su-25, and a number of layout solutions look unusual. But the new combat drone will be involved in patrolling over urban areas in Germany.
At the ILA 2022 air show in Berlin, the European concern Airbus presented the general appearance of the projected heavy Eurodrone drone, and showed the weapon intended for use on it. Its role is played by Hellfire missiles and Paveway laser-guided bombs.
This is a rather unusual solution, because the Eurodrone does not look like an obscure aircraft. In combination with its large size and weight (wingspan – 26 meters, length – 16 meters, weight – up to 11 tons), it should be expected that it will be vulnerable to air defense.
Hellfire missiles of the types currently deployed have a range of no more than 11 kilometers, and Paveway bombs should be used from even shorter distances.
It turns out that in order to defeat the enemy, the Eurodrone must come much closer to it than the radius of destruction of the Thor (16 kilometers) or the Pantsir-S1 (20 kilometers).
The flight ceiling of the new car is 13.7 kilometers, which is less than the high-altitude reach of the Pantsir-S1 (16 kilometers), although slightly more than that of the Thor (12 kilometers).
Meanwhile, both of these complexes effectively hit even the much less radio-observable Bayraktar. It is not entirely clear how exactly the Eurodrone will be able to hit its targets in such a situation.
A possible reason for the bright outdated capabilities of the new drone is the date when its creation was conceived. Airbus signed a contract with European government agencies on February 24 this year, still under the influence of previous ideas about the tasks facing Western attack drones.
For wars like Afghanistan or Iraq, the vulnerability to serious air defense was irrelevant, since the population of countries where Western armed forces fought, there was practically no such air defense.
But the Eurodrone has a serious mass of combat load – 2300 kilograms. Theoretically, this allows over time to adapt not only the “short-armed” Hellfire, but also cruise missiles like the Norwegian NSM with a range of up to 190 kilometers.
In this case, even such a large and radio-observable device as a new drone will have a chance to be used in hostilities without an immediate defeat by the enemy.
The Airbus contract to create a new machine implies its flight readiness by 2027-2028. The cost of the agreement is 7.1 billion euros; the number of machines that the manufacturer must build is 21.
The price also includes ground control stations for drones (at least seven), so it would be incorrect to say that they cost more than a third of a billion euros apiece.
A certain “counter-guerrilla” orientation of the structure attracts attention. Its speed is 500 kilometers per hour, two turbine-propeller engines with pulling propellers give the device the appearance of an ordinary aircraft. It should also be close to him in terms of radio visibility
The Eurodrone project is already seriously criticized in the EU countries. But, oddly enough, not at all in the sense of a limited range of weapons or insufficient stealth.
Apparently, questions of this kind have not yet been raised, since European armies do not yet plan to participate in wars with a serious enemy, and where the enemy is unarmed in the air, similar vehicles will do.
In addition, the German authorities plan to use it to monitor urban areas in their country: it is clear that, keeping in mind such diverse requirements, it is rather difficult to create an inconspicuous combat vehicle.
But critics of the new car in the EU note that such a take-off weight excludes its operation from field airfields. In addition, it will be too expensive to export to other countries.
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