Airbus Defence & Space has provided a glimpse into the future of fighter aircraft by taking the wraps off a hitherto classified stealth project which has been under development for nearly two decades, funded by the German defence ministry.

Questions about the future of the Low Observable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (LOUT) testbed were fielded by program manager Mario Herzog Nov. 5 during an escorted media visit to the company’s sprawling Manching military aircraft facility in Bavaria. The project also involved research at a “skunk works” facility in Bremen.

Independent photographs of the non-flying demonstrator were prohibited, but the company did provide images of its full-scale demonstrator, as seen here.

Airbus LOUT (above)

A ghostly grey platform shaped like an arrowhead, the LOUT has a 12-metre wingspan, is approximately 12m in length, and weighs four tonnes.

Airbus LOUT (below)

From below, the pylon-mounted demonstrator in an anechoic chamber was virtually featureless, but topside showed a simulated cockpit canopy which suggest the basic design could be applied to a piloted aircraft despite the project’s UAV designation. This is flanked by twin air intakes and the thrust-vectored exhaust is designed to screen exhaust heat from ground-based threats. In addition to reducing the aircraft’s infra-red signature, the project also is designed to reduce its radar, visual and acoustic signatures.