Spain has placed a multi-million-euro contract with Airbus Defence & Space for the development and delivery of a new tactical unmanned air system (UAS).
Called SIRTAP, the UAS will be operated by Spain’s army and air force for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks but with the potential to also carry out offensive missions.
Madrid values the contract for nine systems – each comprising three air vehicles and a ground control station – plus two simulators at around €495 million ($543 million).
First flight of the SIRTAP vehicle is due in 2025, Airbus says. It will carry a payload of over 150kg (330lb) and boast a range of more than 1,080nm (2,000km) and endurance of at least 20h.
Payloads are listed as electro-optical/infrared sensors and guided and unguided munitions which can be carried on two hardpoints. Additionally, the system will be certificated to fly in segregated airspace.
No details of the SIRTAP’s specification or suppliers have been disclosed, but images released by the airframer show an air vehicle with a single propeller in a pusher configuration and a V-tail. Wingspan is thought to be around 13m (42ft 6in) and the fuselage about 7m long.
“This new technological milestone in the tactical UAS segment together with the Spanish ministry of defence, will reinforce national sovereignty,” says Jean-Brice Dumont, head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence & Space.
“SIRTAP will be fully developed in Spain, integrating national capabilities. However, thanks to its versatility and the use of ITAR-free components, we also expect it to play a key role on the international market.”
There already appears to be the potential for SIRTAP export sales, with Colombia and Serbia earlier this year reported to be interested.
Airbus’s defence unit says the SIRTAP programme will bring valuable experience for Spain’s industry as it moves towards the development of remote carrier aircraft for the Future Combat Air System effort it is engaged in alongside France and Germany.