France, UK Exploring Collaborative UCAS Venture

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nEUROn undergoing radar cross section (RCS) testing at the DGA lab. Photo: Dassault
After the failure of the Telemos collaborative program, France and the UK are embarking on another cooperation, targeting unmanned combat aircraft systems based on nEUROn (in photo) and Taranis. Photo: Dassault.
After the failure of the Telemos collaborative program, France and the UK are embarking on another cooperation, targeting unmanned combat aircraft systems based on nEUROn (in photo) and Taranis. Photo: Dassault.

Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems are working on a collaborative study of a future Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) project, to agree on the definition of a joint demonstrator that could fly by the end of this decade. rafael banner stati 125Under the joint program the two countries will share information of current UCAS technology demonstration programs run separately by both nations – Taranis in the UK and nEUROn in France. The nEUROn recently went through a comprehensive radar signature evaluation, to verify its stealth characteristics. The unmanned stealth aircraft made its maiden flight in 2012 and will perform more flight tests in Italy and Sweden later in 2013. Taranis is expected to enter flight tests this summer in Australia.

The risk reduction study has been running since the summer of 2012 under a $62 million Future Combat Air System (FCAS) effort announced by the two countries two years ago. The FCAS program could be launched in 2014 and will be followed by technology development programs in late 2015. The UCAS is one of the top priorities in the long-term unmanned systems roadmaps of both counties, which also calls for the fielding of some 30 tactical drones and 9 Medium Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) drones for France, and a similar number of Reapers and Watchkeeper drones for the UK.

nEUROn UCAV, sheltered from the pouring rain in its styled protective bubble at the 50th Paris Air Show. Photo: Dassault
nEUROn UCAV, sheltered from the pouring rain in its styled protective bubble at the 50th Paris Air Show. Photo: Dassault