nEUROn, the European full-scale technological demonstrator for an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), has successfully completed a series of important operational tests at the Italian Air Force’s Decimomannu Air Base, in Sardinia, Italy.

The UCAV is developed by an industrial team led by Dassault Aviation with the collaboration of Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, Saab, Airbus Defence and Space, RUAG and HAI.

The aerial vehicle completed 12 highly sensitive sorties to verify its combat capability, its low-radar-cross section and low-infrared signature.

The tests were conducted at different altitudes and flight profiles and against both ground-based and air radar threats.

nEUROn will undergo the next stage phase of testing this summer at the Vidsel Air Base, Sweden.

The next stage will see tests of low observability and use of weapon delivery from the UCAV’s weapon bay.

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According to Alenia Aermacchi, the development activity of the UCAV is an important step in the technology maturation process of the acquired technology.

nEUROn is expected to be larger and more advanced than other proven 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.

The demonstrator programme was launched by the French Government in 2003 and aims to help the European combat aircraft industry in investigation and validation of technologies required for developing designs of the next-generation UCAV aircraft.

In March, the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) completed flight testing of the nEUROn technology demonstrator from Istres, France.

Image: The Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle. Neuron Photo: courtesy of Alenia Aermacchi.