EADS Seeks Early Go-ahead for Advanced UAV
New information on UAV developments at EADS emerged during a recent media briefing day in Germany. The Military Air Systems unit has built a second Barracuda combat UAV demonstrator, and it will make its first flight from Goose Bay air base in Greenland next spring. The first aircraft crashed in 2006 during an early test flight in Spain. The Barracuda air vehicle is part of a wider program named Agile UAV-NCE that is also investigating datalinks and other necessary network-centric technology. The German government is partially funding the program, which has failed to attract other partners, except the Finnish subsidiary of EADS. Meanwhile, EADS officials are pushing for a quick decision on development of the Advanced UAV, a separate program to produce an all-European airborne surveillance system. France, Germany and Spain have funded a study phase, during which EADS has dropped its early concept of a modular design with interchangeable short and long wings. The Advanced UAV has therefore emerged as a medium- to high-altitude platform with an 80-foot wingspan and an mtow of 12,000 pounds. The payloads would still be interchangeable, and could weigh as much as 1,500 pounds. The officials said that, given a go-ahead by the middle of next year, the Advanced UAV could be flying by early 2013 and operational by late 2015. Meanwhile, EADS is continuing to research a broad range of UAV-enabling technologies, such as sense-and-avoid, command and control, autonomy and communications.