Shortly before the Farnborough airshow Dassault accomplished the first autonomous flight of its AVE-D UAV demonstrator. On June 30 at Toul, France, the AVE-D flew a completely autonomous sequence. It included moving away and returning to its parking spot, runway alignment, takeoff, maneuvering and landing, without any offboard input. The milestone flight occurred in front of observers from France’s Délégation Générale pour l’Armement, the government arms procurement agency that funded the AVE program.
The AVE (Aéronefs de Validation Expérimentale) family has been flying for several years in support of the Neuron UCAV demonstrator. AVE-D (“discretion”/stealth) was the first to fly, on July 18, 2000. The next demonstrator was AVE-C (control), which tested the tailless configuration from its first flight on June 12, 2003. The latest autonomous flight by AVE-D validates a capability vital to the successful progression of the Neuron program, the manufacturer said.