The latest attempt to launch a European Male (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) UAV development was highlighted here yesterday when the chief executive officers of Alenia, Dassault and EADS Cassidian shook hands. The three companies said they “have a common view” on a joint program to meet “the security needs of our European governments and armed forces.”
The $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India will be completed by the end of the year. That was the confident prediction of Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, at an eve-of-show press conference. Since India selected the French combat jet in January 2012, negotiations have dragged on, with thorny issues of local partnerships, offsets and liabilities unresolved.
At an eve-of-show press conference, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, predicted that the $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India would be completed by the end of the year. And he confirmed that the option for a further 63 aircraft was under active discussion.
The pan-European Neuron UCAV is making its public debut, outside Hall 2 here as part of the Dassault Aviation static display. But you could easily miss it. For security reasons, the stealthy, arrow-shaped drone has been enclosed in a dome, with the only public view being through a clear plastic curtain. Dassault is lead contractor, and France the lead country, for the six-nation technology demonstration project. The other participants are Greece (HAI); Italy (Alenia); Spain (EADS-CASA); Sweden (Saab); and Switzerland (Ruag).
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).
Two study contracts have been placed with industry after last week’s Anglo-French agreement on further exploration of a joint UCAV development. BAE Systems, together with Dassault Aviation, and Rolls-Royce with Snecma will work on the demonstration program preparation phase (DPPP) of the proposed future combat air system (FCAS). The value and duration of the work were not stated.
France and the UK signed MoUs for the first phase of a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) based on a UCAV, and for industrial and military cooperation on the Watchkeeper tactical UAV. But although British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond reported “excellent progress on UAVs” after a meeting with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, no agreement was reached on joint-study funding for a Male UAV.
AAI Textron Systems is upgrading more than half of the U.S. Army’s RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to incorporate a tactical common datalink (TCDL) supporting interoperability with other manned and unmanned aircraft. The company has a contract from the U.S. Marine Corps to arm the Shadow using the larger wing added through the Army modifications.
Raytheon has been awarded a major contract for the MTS-B multi-spectral targeting system. The $191 million contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force in April and covers the supply of 149 high-definition MTS-B turrets for Reaper unmanned air vehicles, plus support equipment and spares. Deliveries are due to start in the first quarter of next year, and will run for around two years.
Raytheon’s new small tactical munition (STM), which the U.S. group claims is the first purpose-built weapon for tactical unmanned air systems (UAS), could be in active service within a few months. The U.S. group told AIN it is currently integrating the STM on “a couple of platforms that we can’t disclose,” while reporting interest from the U.S. Marines in weaponizing their Shadow UAS with the new device as well as possible special forces applications.
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