Europe’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has flown. The Neuron technology demonstrator took off from the Dassault test base at Istres, France, at dawn on December 1. Dassault is the prime contractor, teamed with Alenia Aermacchi (Italy); EADS-CASA (Spain); Hellenic Aerospace Industries (Greece); Ruag (Switzerland); Saab (Sweden) and Thales (France).
AIN’s team of editors and reporters provided full coverage of the Farnborough International airshow this week. All the stories can be found online.
Saab and Selex Galileo revealed the Gripen NG’s new repositioning AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar for the first time in public here at the Farnborough International airshow. Selex Galileo delivered the preproduction ES-05 Raven radar to Saab on June 12. Five days later, in time for the show, it was fitted in the Gripen NG. A second identical radar, complete with repositioning system, is being retained at Selex Galileo’s Edinburgh facility for roof tests.
Having selected the Gripen E/F to fulfill its F-5 replacement requirement, the Swiss air force is calmly confident that the acquisition makes it through the political process unscathed. Lt. Gen. Markus Gygax, the air force chief of staff, spoke to AIN last month about his service’s plans for the machine.
Saab has brought its new-generation Gripen to the Farnborough International Airshow not as a demonstrator aircraft for potential new technologies, as previously, but as a systems prototype for the intended production Gripen NG, or Gripen E/F as it is also known. Designated as aircraft 39-7, the two-seat Gripen has new avionics and new cockpit installed, and just before Farnborough received the full-standard Selex Galileo ES-05 Raven e-scan radar, complete with repositioner. In this guise, 39-7 has become the avionics testbed for the Gripen E/F.
Saab is to establish an advanced training center for Gripen pilots at Overberg air force base in South Africa, the Swedish company announced this week. The center will act as a fighter weapons school and will specialize in honing the skills of experienced pilots. The first course will take place late next year, and the syllabus will focus on advanced multi-role aspects of Gripen operations.
Saab’s confidence in a growing sector has resulted in the company investing in a demonstrator platform for its 340 maritime security aircraft (MSA) offering. The aircraft’s conversion was completed last month, in time to begin customer demonstrations and appearances at a series of trade exhibitions, beginning with this week’s Farnborough International Airshow.
ATR’s 50-seat 42-600 turboprop was certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) late last month, bringing to fruition a test campaign that saw the larger, 70-seat ATR 72-600 gain certification in May last year. The aircraft have been updated with glass cockpits and modern avionics systems along with other refinements, including the Armonia cabin designed by Italian car designer Giugiaro.
The threat to civil aviation posed by man-portable air defense systems (Manpads)–such as shoulder launched missiles–in conflict areas around the world is resulting in a requirement for intelligent systems to help counter the attacks. Saab’s Civil Aircraft Missile Protection (Camps) system has increasingly been used to combat such threats, Hannes Prinsloo, technical product manager South Africa for Saab told AIN.
Dassault has offered to adjust the Rafale package for Switzerland to reduce cost and prevent the confirmation of the Saab Gripen as that country’s new fighter. The move follows the leaking of the Swiss air force evaluation report on the competing fighters, which also included the Eurofighter. The Rafale was the clear winner of the SAF evaluation, with the Eurofighter second, but the Swiss government opted for the cheaper Gripen package. This was worth $3.4 billion and included 22 jets. The potential new French offer is $3 billion for 18 aircraft, according to reports in the Swiss media.