EADS hopes to persuade France, Germany and Spain to launch development of its Advanced UAV, now named Talarion, a medium/high-altitude surveillance drone. But evidence of any progress by EADS in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) sector was entirely missing at this month’s Paris Air Show.
Unmanned combat air vehicle
Alenia Aeronautica is one of three companies within the Italian Finmeccanica group that deal with fixed-wing aircraft production. The others are Alenia Aermacchi, which is also active in both commercial and military aircraft, and Superjet International, the joint venture with Russia’s Sukhoi in the regional jet business. The company is eagerly awaiting the imminent maiden flight of the Boeing 787, which will open a new phase in the program.
Rolls-Royce has signed a jointly funded research and technology contract with the UK ministry of defense.
Here is a scenario produced by Northrop Grumman that demonstrates the thinking behind the Navy-UCAS program:
The X-47B is the only stealthy UAV under development that is currently acknowledged by the Pentagon–unless you count the recently revealed Predator-C, which General Atomics says has been built with the company’s own funds.
We all know that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) present operational challenges, and making them into stealthy, tailless jets and asking them to do combat is even more challenging. But what about an unmanned stealthy tailless combat jet that must take off and land on an aircraft carrier?
This promises to be a milestone year for BAE Systems’ growing unmanned air systems business with the first flights of both the demonstrator for the Mantis persistent ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) aircraft and of the production-standard Herti. On top of this, the UK group will complete manufacturing of its new Taranis demonstrator.
Alenia Aeronautica is claiming leadership in Europe of unmanned aircraft development, following the recent completion of new flight tests of the Sky-Y demonstrator. The five flights took place within specially designated airspace in the Puglia region of Italy, and followed 14 earlier flights on the test range at Vidsel in northern Sweden.
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.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B UCAS-D carrier-borne unmanned combat air system demonstrator is currently undergoing sub-system checks before final assembly for a first flight date in November next year. Having been developed at El Segundo, the first X-47B (AV-1) is now at Palmdale, California, where the vehicle’s centerbody/inner wing structure is essentially complete.