BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate exclusively on the preparation and submission of a joint proposal to the UK and French Ministries of Defence for the design, development, production and support of a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The signature follows the United Kingdom and French Governments agreement at the Anglo-French Summit in November 2010 to collaborate on the next generation MALE UAS to meet the requirements of both countries.
Dassault was hoping to win a current French Air Force order with the Israeli Heron TP, marketed under a two-year cooperation with IAI and the Spanish company Indra. However, this contract is likely to be awarded to U.S. General Atomics delivering the MQ-9 Reaper. With the newly announced collaboration with the British company, Dassault is now aiming at furtehr down the road – the MoU will enable the two companies to establish a framework under which they may jointly ‘pursue long term business opportunities’ the ccompanies annauncement said.
According to Eric Trappier, Executive Vice President International at Dassault Aviation, thejointly developed MALE UAS will provide both countries a cost-effective, intelligent autonomous exploitation system that will meet both countries’ military requirements within the future budgetary constraints under which both governments are expected to deal with.
BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation have already completed a joint MALE UAS feasibility study for the United Kingdom and French Governments. This study has given both companies the confidence to move to the next stage of developing a joint proposal that will harness the considerable UAS capabilities of both BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation.
Kevin Taylor, Managing Director Military Air & Information at BAE Systems emphasized the importance of the cooperation established among the two aviation industries, ensuring that the UK and France maintain their status as leading providers of aerospace capability. “We have a strong team in place that is ready to develop the future frontline UAS capability required by both the UK and France” Taylor added.
Dassault is developing an unmanned combat aircraft (UCAV) technology demonstrator (nEUROn) under a multi-national cooperation with the EADS group, Italian Alenia, Swedish company Saab, Swiss RUAG and Helenic Aerospace Industries. The U.K is developing a similar platform under MOD/BAE Systems’ Taranis program. The current agreement on MALE UAVs could pave the way to extend such cooperation to unmanned combat aerial platforms as well.