While the British are touting their UCAV capabilities to the world, the six European countries that have partnered to produce the Neuron UCAV demonstrator are quietly getting on with their own tasks.
The five-year, ?400 million program is scheduled to last until 2014, after a first flight in 2012. Unlike the Taranis program, test flights will include the operation of a purpose-built EO/IR sensor and the dropping of weapons. France is providing half of the funds, so Dassault is prime contractor and design authority. The other industrial partners are Alenia Aeronautica (Italy); EADS (Spain); HAI (Greece); and Ruag (Switzerland).
Saab program manager Mats Ohlson admitted last month that the Neuron schedule has slipped, but said it was largely the result of additional risk reduction work on low-observability that was performed in the first two years. The program was launched in 2006.