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Airbus showcases 'Wingman' jet-like stealth drone concept at giant aerospace show in Berlin

Airbus this week revealed the concept for a new fighter-type drone, called Wingman, and showcased a model of it at Berlin's massive ILA Air Show.

The drone would be an "unmanned escort for manned fighter jets," Airbus said in a statement, noting that it is designed to operate in a similar way to an actual wingman. In aviation, a wingman is a pilot in a secondary aircraft that supports and protects the primary one.

The drone, which can be commanded by fighter jet pilots, can be deployed on riskier missions which could post a threat to manned aircraft.

"The Wingman's tasks can range from reconnaissance to jamming targets and engaging targets on the ground or in the air with precision guided munitions or missiles," Airbus said.

Unmanned drones and aircraft have become a key feature of modern warfare. They offer efficiency and greater range, as they do not require the capacity to carry crew and don't need any safety features or similar support systems.

The model on display at the Berlin air show is described as a foundation for the design and eventual production of the drone. It includes features such as low observability, sensors and the integration of armaments, Airbus said.

Airbus also said it was working with artificial intelligence defense company Helsing on developing AI technologies for the Wingman drone.

The ILA Berlin Air Show is one of the biggest in the world, bringing together startups and industry heavyweights to showcase the latest developments in both the civilian and military air and space industries.

A range of drones are on display this year, including so-called "kamikaze" drones which are believed to have been used in the Russia-Ukraine war. These drones typically carry explosives and loiter near a target before