Germany’s MTU Aero Engines is considering its response to an emerging requirement for an engine to power a future ‘loyal wingman’ or remote carrier aircraft.

To operate alongside a manned fighter, an uncrewed remote carrier concept is envisaged as a core part of the tri-national Future Combat Air System programme being developed for France, Germany and Spain.

Wingman concept

Source: Airbus Defence & Space

Airbus Defence & Space teased Wingman concept at the ILA Berlin air show

MTU is already collaborating, through its EUMET joint venture, with France’s Safran Aircraft Engines and Spanish firm ITP Aero on the powerplant for the manned New Generation Fighter (NGF) element of the project.

However, on 5 June ITP announced that it was teaming with Rolls-Royce Deutschland to offer a new engine for a loyal wingman aircraft derived from the latter’s Advance2 core for business jet applications.

Michael Schreyoegg, chief programme officer at MTU, says the propulsion specialist will “definitely” offer an engine for any future remote carrier.

This would likely be done through a consortium, either the existing EUMET construct, or another business, he says.

“We will be teaming to offer a product which supports this kind of remote carrier or loyal wingman, but what this teaming arrangement will be remains to be seen.”

Schreyoegg favours the re-use of an existing powerplant, believing any clean-sheet design would be “too expensive” and “difficult to justify” the investment needed.

However, he says it is “too early” to define what that engine would look like as requirements for the programme have yet to emerge.

In the meantime, EUMET is continuing to refine its design studies for the NGF powerplant. Two concepts are being offered to the nations – one a conventional turbofan and the other a variable-geometry engine.

Design options will be submitted to the customers this year, allowing down-selection and progression to the programme’s next phase in early 2026.

Currently in the technology maturation phase, no engine will be needed until the first flight of a prototype in the 2030s.

Details of the new powerplant’s output are being kept under wraps, but Schreyoegg says the engine will offer thrust that is “significantly higher” than that of existing European military engines.

The Safran M88 for the Dassault Rafale is rated at 16,500lb (71kN)-thrust, while the Eurojet EJ200 for the Eurofighter Typhoon produces 17,500lb.