Dassault Aviation announced today (July 8, 2008) that its AVE-D drone completed its first fully autonomous demonstration flight a week ago, on June 30, 2008 near Toul, France. The jet powered UAV performed a completely automated flight sequence: roll from parking spot, runway alignment, takeoff, in-flight maneuvers, landing, braking and rolling back to the parking apron. The demonstration flight is a key development milestone for a technology essential to the successful pursuit of the European nEUROn Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Demonstrator program. The flight was watched by representatives of France’s Délégation Générale pour l’Armement (DGA) armaments procurement agency.
The AVE (Aéronefs de Validation Expérimentale) series is a family of scale model experimental unmanned aircraft developed by Dassault Aviation. It was flown for the first time eight years ago (July 2000), designed to test and validation advanced Uninhabited Air Vehicles (UAV), stealth designs and autonomous flight. As part of this stealth design evaluation, a tail-less version of the aircraft designated AVE-C was flown in June 2003. According to Dassault, the flight marks a significant first for the company, confirming its expertise in Uninhabited Air Vehicles.