France and the UK have agreed a common military staff requirement for a future medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS, according to Gen. Denis Mercier, commander of the French Air Force. However, he cautioned that the move would not automatically result in the development by European industry of a Male UAV “because there is no money available at the moment.” European aerospace leaders have been pressing for the launch of a “Euro-Male” development program.
French Air Force
Airbus Military has launched operations at a services logistics hub at its Seville production facility. The 27,000-sq-ft hub is staffed by 100 people who manage approximately 22,500 different part numbers. It provides spares for the company’s A330MRTT, A400M, C295 and CN-235 series of airlifters and tankers, and their ground equipment. It is certified to EASA Part 145 standards.
Even as French aircrews began training in the U.S. on the Reaper UAS, EADS Cassidian announced that it had received a one-year extension to its support contract for the Harfang UAS that the French air force intends to replace with the American drone. Cassidian also noted that the similar Heron UAS operated by the German air force and supported by the company has logged 15,000 hours over Afghanistan. The Germans are also considering a Reaper buy as a replacement for the Israeli-origin UAVs.
In ceremonies at the Seville factory and at Orleans airbase on September 30, Airbus Military and the French Air Force celebrated the entry into service of the A400M airlifter. No new aircraft were handed over, but delivery of the second aircraft for France and the first for Turkey will occur by the end of October.
The French Air Force accepted its first A400M airlifter on August 2, when an all-military crew flew the first production aircraft–MSN7–from Seville to its operational base at Orleans. The flight followed a July 31 declaration by the pan-European procurement agency OCCAR that Airbus Military had achieved the contracted specifications for the initial operating capability of the new airlifter.
On behalf of the seven European nations buying the Airbus Military A400M, the French government defense procurement agency (French acronym DGA) announced that the new airlifter had achieved military certification.
Europe’s failure to launch a medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAV to compete with long-established offerings from Israel and the U.S. was a major talking point at last week’s Paris Air Show. AIN’s team of editors and reporters provided full coverage of the world’s biggest aerospace event; all the stories can be found online at www.ainonline.com–some of them in longer form than we were able to publish in our four print editions of Paris Airshow News.
The second production A400M for the French air force (MSN8) was at the Paris Air Show, and President François Hollande flew into the show aboard one of the prototypes. However, Airbus Military has missed its target of making its first delivery of the new airlifter in the second quarter. According to operations director Bruno Sainjon from the DGA, which is the French defense agency responsible for approving the aircraft for service, “there are still some certification issues to take care of. We are still negotiating a bit.”
On display in the Thales pavilion, the AESA (active electronically scanned array) version of the RBE2 radar will soon become the first of its kind to go operational in Europe. The first French air force Rafale squadron to convert to the new fighter will receive four AESA-equipped aircraft in October. The first production radar was delivered last October and is completing operational testing at Mont de Marsan airbase.
With delivery of the first A400M airlifters nearing, Airbus Military has concluded an initial support deal with the French air force and a long-term training contract with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Meanwhile, Airbus Military is equipping its international training center in Seville with A400M computer-based trainers and a full-motion simulator.
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