Airbus Unveils Germany’s Classified Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT)

Airbus Unveils Germany’s Classified Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT)

By Dario Leone
Nov 5 2019
Share this article

Lessons learned from the LOUT will be available for potential adaptation during a long-term evolution activity on the Eurofighter Typhoon, and on a proposed French-German-Spanish FCAS development.

On Nov. 4, 2019 at Manching, Airbus Defence & Space has revealed LO UAV testbed (LOUT) a more than decade-long research and demonstration effort into very low observable (LO) technologies, conducted as a classified effort for the German defence ministry.

Mario Hertzog, Airbus future combat air system (FCAS) programme manager, explained that the company began initial concept work in 2007. A contract to refine configuration and material choices was awarded in 2010 and the production of a diamond planform demonstrator was completed in 2014.

According to Flight Global, the chosen configuration used for aerodynamic and anechoic chamber testing since 2014 is described as a 4t-class vehicle and has a roughly 12m (39.3ft) wingspan and similar length. The subsonic design would use a conventional engine concealed behind a diverterless inlet, and has twin intakes blended into its upper fuselage. A cockpit transparency and sensor apertures also formed part of the testing.

The aircraft’s exhaust nozzle also is shielded from beneath.

Airbus Unveils Germany’s Classified Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT)

Such a vehicle would be optimised for use against ground-based air-defence systems, Hertzog pointed out. He also added that this mission requirement also led the company to hone LO techniques for the vehicle’s landing gear doors and centerline internal weapons bay.

Focus areas have included testing LO materials, including a radar absorbent structure for engine intake ducts, and on assessing radar frequency and infrared signature performance. Modelling work has also been conducted to analyse the likely acoustic characteristics of such a design.

Even though Airbus has completed contracted work on LOUT, the company says additional activities could be conducted. Hertzog did not reveal if Berlin could seek a flight-test campaign with such a system.

However, lessons learned from the LOUT programme will be available for potential adaptation during a long-term evolution activity on the Eurofighter Typhoon, and on a proposed French-German-Spanish FCAS development, Hertzog says.

Stealth is and will remain an enabler for survivability,” he notes.

Airbus Unveils Germany’s Classified Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT)

Photo credit: Airbus


Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article


Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.



    Share this article
    Back to top