Anglo-French cooperation on MALE UAVs may have stalled, according to reports from Paris and from informed sources AIN spoke to at the Farnborough International airshow yesterday. However, it appears that that the proposed joint UCAV study will still be sanctioned when French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visits London on July 24.
Unmanned combat air vehicle
Visitors to the BAE Systems pavilion here at Farnborough are being greeted by a model of a UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle) representing a notional shape that could one day be a joint Anglo-French design. The UCAV model reflects the UK group’s refocusing of its show presence on “air” products, and the hugely important part unmanned systems are expected to play in the company’s future.
Executives from the Boeing Phantom Works described progress on various projects during a media tour at Edwards AFB recently. The unit does leading-edge research and development for the various Boeing divisions, including military aircraft.
An Anglo-French defense summit in Paris last week confirmed that the two governments will sign a risk-reduction contract soon with BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation for the Telemos Medium Altitude Long-Endurance (Male) UAV. “We look forward to taking further decisions jointly in the light of the outcomes of this risk-reduction phase to ensure that our respective sovereign requirements will be met in a cost-effective manner,” the governments added.
The Neuron UCAV demonstrator was officially unveiled last week inside a hangar at Istres airbase in southern France to representatives of the six governments funding the €400 million ($520.4 million) effort. France, Italy and Sweden each produced UCAV-like flying prototypes before joining Greece, Switzerland and Spain on the Neuron project in 2006.
EADS Cassidian and Alenia Aeronautica signed an MoU to explore cooperation on the next generation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). This is the latest maneuver within a European aerospace industry that is united in the desire to develop UAS capabilities, but divided by national and programmatic considerations. (Photo: EADS)
Dassault released photographs of the Neuron UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle) demonstrator in final assembly at Istres, France, and confirmed that the six-nation collaborative program is on schedule. All subassemblies have been delivered, including the low-observable parts of the structure coming from Dassault’s Argenteuil and Biarritz factories.
Alenia Aeronautica’s standing as a player in the fast-developing UAV market has been bolstered by its role a first-level partner in Europe’s Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle program. Last month, the Italian company delivered the first weapons bay doors and its operating mechanism to program leader Dassault Aviation.
Here at the Paris Air Show, Dassault and BAE Systems have joined forces to display a mockup of the UK company’s Mantis medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV technology demonstrator. The combined exhibit highlights the recent agreement between the two companies to codevelop the Telemos UAS to meet the needs of both British and French armed forces.
The Boeing Phantom Ray stealthy and autonomous UAV demonstrator made its first flight at Edwards AFB on April 27, and flew again in early May. The flights followed high-speed taxi tests that validated ground guidance, navigation and control and verified mission planning, pilot interface and operational procedures.