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Airbus Unveils LOUT Stealth Testbed

After more than a decade as a secret project, Airbus Defence revealed the LOUT (Low Observable UAV Testbed), a holistic platform approach to stealth, covering Signature Reduction, Electromagnetic Emission Control, Electronic Countermeasures

Issue 96

On November 5, during TMB 2019 Airbus unveiled for the first time a 4-ton classified Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT) that it has been developing in secret for almost 12 years at the Manching facility with a Shunk Works approach for the German Government. The Editor of Chief of Defence Turkey Magazine also attended the launch ceremony held at the ADS Manching facility where the LOUT model was revealed in a hangar with an anechoic chamber. On this non-flying 12m x 12m diamond-shaped subsonic UAV, Airbus has been working on very low observable (VLO) technologies in terms of designs, coatings and antennae that might be fed into the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Project. LOUT design is focused on broadband radar, IR and acoustic signature reduction. It is claimed that the LOUT’s stealth profile makes it completely undetectable from air defence threats and radar-based detection. “It will make a valid contribution to the FCAS,” said Mario HERTZOG, FCAS Senior Project Manager. 

According to HERTZOG the initial concept work on LOUT began in 2007 through Airbus internal funding, and the development continued in Skunk Works-like secrecy. LOUT was contracted by the German MoD in 2010 as a VLO ground testbed to demonstrate wideband signature reduction technologies and refine configuration and material choices for a potential configuration of a VLO-platform. Noting that ADS has been involved in VLO technologies for several years, HERTZOG said, “Bringing all our experience into one program was a logical conclusion. “Stealth is and will remain an enabler for survivability,” he added. During the development process, several configurations were elaborated. The company started with 2D platform evaluations, followed by 3D layouts, and then 3D configurations. The testing of the three most promising configurations was launched in 2014, and following the tunnel tests of scale-models, Airbus decided on a diamond platform shape in 2015.

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