Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with Textron to offer the Shadow M2 tactical UAV for a French army requirement that is expected to be launched in the coming weeks. France has been deliberating over a UAV for the army for some time, and has tested the Thales Watchkeeper extensively. Meanwhile, Sagem has offered the Patroller UAV. However, the ministry of defense has indicated it will shortly issue an open tender. Under the teaming agreement, Airbus D&S will install French mission equipment in the Shadow.
That equipment is similar to that being offered to the French navy on the Airbus D&S Tanan Block 2 rotary-wing UAV, the prototype of which made its public debut this week during the Eurosatory defense show in Paris. It has been developed from the Tanan Block 1, which was in turn based on the Swedish CybAero APID 60. The Block 2 offers dual-payload capability and an advanced heavy fuel engine developed by Airbus D&S and the company’s Innovation Works. At Eurosatory, Airbus DS highlighted the commonality of Shadow and Tanan, and is further proposing the use of the Lygarion data transfer system that is already in French service with the Harfang UAS (based on the IAI Heron).
In return, Tanan is being offered to the U.S. Navy by Textron with U.S. systems. The UK’s Royal Navy is also interested, according to Airbus D&S. Tanan Block 2 is scheduled to undergo sea trials with France’s new-generation frigate next year.
Eurosatory was also the setting for the launch by Jordan’s King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) of a project to produce a gunship version of the C295 medium airlifter. KADDB will lead the integrated product team that includes industrial partners Airbus D&S (airframe and integration) and ATK (weapons and mission system).
Initially one aircraft is covered by the agreement, but KADDB told AIN that “you can’t have a program of just one aircraft: there will be a minimum of two.” Jordan has already placed in service two AC-235 gunships based on the smaller CN235 transport and will operate the new gunships alongside them. The two types have similar mission systems, and the timescale to deliver the first C295 is expected to be considerably shorter than the four-and-a-half years it took to produce the AC-235.
Also at Eurosatory, Turkey’s Roketsan announced a teaming with MBDA-Deutschland to offer the Cirit laser-guided rocket to the German army, which has a requirement for such a weapon to arm its Airbus Helicopters Tiger attack helicopters. Diehl Defence has already partnered with Elbit to meet this requirement with GILA (guided intelligent light armament), a development of the Israeli GATR weapon, and was showing it at Eurosatory. Funding for the Tiger requirement is expected in 2016.