Europe’s nEUROn unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator was presented in flight today at an air meet at Istres organized by the French Air Force. It is the first time in world aeronautical history that a stealth aircraft controlled from the ground has flown in public.
The event – which was prepared by teams from Dassault Aviation, along with the French defense procurement agency DGA and the French Air Force – was able to take place thanks to the reliability and safety demonstrated by the nEUROn since the start of testing in 2012.
The presentation, which was carried out by the Dassault Aviation flight test center, lasted about 15 minutes. After takeoff, the nEUROn was joined by a Rafale and a Falcon 8X.
“This formation of three aircraft illustrates the technological expertise necessary for tomorrow’s aeronautical projects. It also contributes to the centennial celebrations of our Group, which has been designing, building and supporting civil and military aircraft since 1916,” declared Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier.
The three aircraft flew past in formation at an altitude of 150 meters above the Istres runway at 350 km/h, less than 400 meters from thousands of spectators. This flying display, in a limited airspace, represents a real achievement, both technically and in terms of flying skills.
In March 2014, the nEUROn became the world’s first unmanned combat air vehicle to fly in formation with other aircraft (a Rafale and a Falcon 7X).
Furthermore, outside the United States, the nEUROn team is the first in the world to have designed, built and flown a stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator and the first to have submitted it to a comprehensive test program, including:
tests involving operational detection systems (radar and infrared);
launch of a weapon from an internal bay at high speed.
nEUROn is a European program for an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator, conducted by Dassault Aviation as prime contractor under the authority of French defense procurement agency DGA. It heralds tomorrow’s defense programs, since it federates expertise from across Europe (France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Greece and Switzerland). The nEUROn program is designed to validate the development of complex technologies representing all mission systems: high-level flight control and stealth, launching real air-to-ground weapons from an internal bay, integration in the C4I environment, innovative industrial collaboration processes, etc. The demonstrator made its first flight at Istres on December 1, 2012. The test schedule was completed in September 2015 with the 123rd flight. All program objectives were achieved. An additional series of tests was launched by the DGA in May 2016 to study the use of an unmanned combat air vehicle in a naval context.
Key characteristics of nEUROn:
length » 10 meters;
wingspan » 12.5 meters;
empty weight » 5000 kg;
max. weight » 7000 kg;
max. speed » Mach 0.8;
autonomy » 3 hours.
SOURCES – dassault