Major subassemblies for the Neuron UCAV technology demonstrator have been delivered to Dassault Aviation, which acts as prime contractor and design authority for this pan-European project. Sweden-based Saab handed over the front and central sections, while HAI in Greece delivered the rear fuselage.
By April, Dassault expects to receive the outer wings from EADS-CASA in Spain; the weapons bay and doors from Alenia in Italy; the payload interface from Ruag in Switzerland; and the landing gear doors from Saab. Other key Neuron suppliers include Selex Galileo (electro-optic target sensor); Rolls-Royce (Adour turbofan); Thales (communications) and Volvo Flygmotor (exhaust masking, with Saab). Dassault is supplying “stealth-related parts” (presumably the edges) and will do the final assembly and fitting at Istres, France, assisted by personnel assigned by the other partners. Dassault said that the partners “have already drawn substantial lessons from the program.”
The first engine runs of the single Neuron air vehicle are scheduled for the end of the year, with a first flight planned for the middle of next year. This is about three months later than previously planned. AIN learned recently that the first flight of the “rival” all-British Taranis UCAV demonstrator has also slipped, from later this year into early 2012. However, the air vehicle was assembled last year and unveiled by BAE Systems at Warton in July.