EADS UCAV Development Continues in Secret

 - June 18, 2009, 12:14 PM

EADS hopes to persuade France, Germany and Spain to launch development of its Advanced UAV, now named Talarion, a medium/high-altitude surveillance drone. But evidence of any progress by EADS in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) sector was entirely missing at this month’s Paris Air Show. Indeed, at a media briefing there, Stefan Zoller, CEO of EADS Defence and Security, said that the group has stopped development of UCAVs, because there is no prospect of weaponized UAVs being delivered in the next 10 years.

However, Aviation International News has learned that EADS is continuing work on the “Agile UAV Within Network Centric Environments” (Agile-NCE) study that was commissioned by the German government in late 2007. Finland and Switzerland have subsequently joined the project, which is exploring UCAV technologies and operational concepts. This work essentially builds on EADS’s experience in building and flying the Barracuda UCAV demonstrator. It crashed in Spain on an early test flight in 2006. As part of the Agile-NCE project, which lasts until 2013, EADS is building a second UCAV that will be test-flown from Goose Bay in Canada.
It seems that Zoller has banned all mention of the Barracuda and the follow-on UCAV development. Perhaps he is concerned that another crash will dent the nations’ enthusiasm for proceeding with the Advanced UAV. In fact, EADS may already have problems in getting the Talarion endorsed. According to one published report, an official from the German Air Staff told a pre-show conference in Paris that his office was not impressed with the Advanced UAV study and proposal for development that EADS delivered last month.