The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) has completed flight testing of the nEUROn unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator from Istres, France.
The test campaign was undertaken in collaboration with Dassault Aviation in two phases. It consisted of 100 flights and demonstrated the UCAV and associated equipment’s enhanced availability and reliability.
Focus of the first phase was on opening the flight envelope to validate nEUROn’s electro-optical sensor and to evaluate datalink performance. This included situations when weapon bay doors are open.
During the second phase, most flights were dedicated to infrared and electromagnetic signature / detection confrontations against operational sensors, particularly ground and airborne radar, as well as with missile seekers.
The stealth-related data and feedback obtained from the programme is expected to serve as a reference for future aircraft projects.
The nEUROn flight testing is scheduled to continue overseas, first in Italy and then in Sweden, until the end of 2015.
A first test flight for the stealth technology demonstrator was completed in December 2012 from Dassault’s flight test base in Istres.
The nEUROn demonstrator programme was launched by the French Government in 2003. It aims to help the European combat aircraft industry in investigation and validation of technologies required for developing designs of the next-generation UCAV aircraft.
nEUROn is expected to be larger and more advanced than other prove UAV systems like the MQ-1 Predator. It would be able to launch precision-guided munitions from an internal weapons bay, and perform an air-to-ground mission in a network centric warfare.
Dassault secured a contract from DGA in 2006. It serves as prime contractor and the design authority of the programme, which is also supported by Italy, Sweden, Spain, Greece and Switzerland, along with their industrial teams, including Alenia Aermacchi, Saab, EAD, Hellenic Aerospace Industry and Ruag.
Image: The nEUROn UCAV technology demonstrator successfully completed French state trials. Photo: courtesy of Dassault Aviation, G Gosset.