EADS is unveiling at the Paris Air Show the latest version of the Advanced UAV System. The new UAV is positioned by EADS to fulfill European requirements for High Altitude Intelligence collecting platform, fitted with a wing span 27.9 meters, the UAV will be capable of flying at a maximum altitude of 50,000 ft, on a 24 hour mission. The Advanced UAV will be designed for maximum takeoff weight of seven tons, carrying an external payload of one ton.
In May 2009 and EADS Defence & Security (DS) concluded an 15 months €60 million risk reduction study undertaken with cooperation of France, Germany and Spain, planning for the tri-national Advanced UAV. According to EADS’ Senior Vice President for Mission Air Systems Nicolas Chamussy, “The common understanding between the partners for the joint Advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions, as described in our study, is another stable pillar of European security.” Nicolas Chamussy is the integrated DS business unit Military Air Systems (MAS). He said the Advanced UAV will incorporate the most modern, modular sensor suite and data links, which are vital for sustainable and reliable ISTAR missions, which contemporary off-the-shelf platforms never can achieve. “The Advanced UAV project, once launched soon, will give our customers operational flexibility, a permanent awareness picture on critical security hot spots home or abroad, and autonomy from third parties’ equipment and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) results”, Chamussy stated.
The configuration displayed on a full-scale model at the Paris Air Show represents the resolution of requirements set by the different partners. The aerial vehicle is powered by two dorsal mounted turbojet engines, clearing the mid-section and belly for carrying mission payloads. The aircraft employs a forward mounted radar, with retractable, large focal plane multi-sensor payload employing large apperture optics. Electronic surveillance probes are grouped at the sides and the tail, where another rear-looking radar is emplaced. COMINT gear is associated with fuselage mounted antennae emplaced in the lower forward section while the upper section is cleared for the satellite communications datalink and avionics.
“For the Risk Reduction Study, which we received in late 2007, a joint team of dedicated engineers from DS in France, Germany and Spain was working very hard to deliver a tailor-made solution satisfying the common needs for an Advanced UAV for the Armed Forces of France, Germany and Spain. The close dialogue with the customers around the Advanced UAV Battle-lab has proved a unmatched tool to harmonize requirements and optimize the solution”, said Chamussy.
EADS’ Advanced UAV team included Thales, which led the radar sub-team Indra in Spain, leading defense electronics activities. The twin-jet propulsion system of the Advanced UAV will not only supply ample on-board energy for the satellite communications, sensors and data links, but also safeguard secure flight conditions in the densely populated skies over Europe”, Chamussy explained.
Given a positive response from the partner nations, EADS expects a development contract worth €1.5 billion by next year. France and Germany could be interested in buying six systems each, with Spain opting for three. Turkey has also expressed interest in the program.