Europe’s Future Military Drone to Boast the First Turboprop With 3D-Printed Parts

Airbus is building the future Eurodrone together with other industry partners 6 photos
Photo: Airbus
Eurodrone will be powered by the Catalyst engineEurodrone will be powered by the Catalyst engineEurodrone will be powered by the Catalyst engineEurodrone will be powered by the Catalyst engineEurodrone will be powered by the Catalyst engine
Seven years after this major aviation project was announced, the European UAS (unmanned aerial system) program finally got the green light at the beginning of this year, after Spain authorized the official budget for the future Eurodrone. Now, the program hit another milestone, as Avio Aero was selected to provide the innovative engine that will power the unmanned aircraft.
Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have joined forces to develop a military drone that would be at the forefront of Europe’s future security and defense strategy. After several bumps in the road, the project is now finally back on track, and the main industry partners (Airbus, Dassault Aviation, and Leonardo) can get to work.

As a confirmation that things are moving forward with Euromale RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aerial System), also known as the Eurodrone, Airbus announced that the Italian company Avio Aero was selected as the engine supplier. Under the agreement, the aviation company will provide 120 engines for the Eurodrone aircraft, as well as maintenance and service operations.

The choice is not surprising – the Catalyst engine claims to be the first turboprop in aviation history that’s made with 3D-printed components. The result is an engine that’s lighter, more efficient, with 10% more cruising power and payload. According to the manufacturer, it’s capable of ensuring three more hours on “a typical UAV mission” compared to current turboprop engines. And it also boasts 20% lower fuel consumption, with an overall pressure ratio of 16:1, which is considered best-in-class.

The Catalyst also features a FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) system that ensures seamless integration between the propeller and the avionics. Since Avio Aero is a GE Aviation business, several of this company’s sites are part of the Catalyst engineering team, including the GE Aviation Advanced Technology Center of Munich (Germany).

Eurodrone is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) aircraft intended for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. The 52-foot (16 meters) drone will be able to reach a top speed of 310 mph (50 kph), with a payload of 5,070 lbs (2,300 kg). First flights are scheduled for 2026.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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