The all-British Taranis UCAV demonstrator has flown in fully stealth mode during a second phase of flight testing, BAE Systems revealed at the Farnborough Airshow this week. The flights took place last winter from Woomera, South Australia, at a location that the company is still not allowed to acknowledge by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). “The overall achievements and objectives of the Taranis program remain highly classified,” Chris Garside, engineering director BAE Systems told a media briefing.
In his last act as British Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond and his French counterpart, Jean-Yves le Drian, signed an agreement at the Farnborough Airshow yesterday to launch a two-year co-operative feasibility study for an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) deal is worth £120 million (more than $180 million) for six industry partners: BAE Systems, Dassault Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Safran, Selex and Thales.
At the Dassault Aviation annual press conference, in Saint-Cloud (France), CEO Eric Trappier has confirmed achieving a firm agreement with Indian group Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) concerning the partnership between Dassault and HAL for the 126 Rafale fighters that India wants to buy. The agreement covers the general configuration of the aircraft, the technology transfers and the detailed workshare between the two partners and their subcontractors. Also, it clarifies the mechanism of warranties, said Trappier.
Billed as the most advanced aircraft yet built by the UK aerospace industry, the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS demonstrator has also been one of the most elusive. Security surrounding the stealthy, unmanned combat air vehicle technology demonstrator has been extremely tight, with access strictly controlled. However, the UK government finally cleared BAE to release some details of the project this week, following the announcement on January 31 by the UK and France that cooperation on the next stage of a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) has been agreed.
China’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or Sharp Sword, made its first flight on November 21. The event took place at an unidentified flight-test site in southwest China after several months of ground testing. The first flight lasted approximately 20 minutes, and unofficial video footage was soon available on Chinese websites.
Flight trials of the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS technology demonstrator have started at the Woomera test range in South Australia. But neither the company nor its customer, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made any announcement. The news emerged from a policy document on military UAS that the MoD submitted to the defense committee of the UK parliament.
EADS Cassidian chief executive officer Bernhard Gerwert has defended the company’s credibility as an unmanned airborne systems (UAS) provider, in the wake of the Euro Hawk cancellation. The company was a 50-percent partner in the joint venture with Northrop Grumman that was providing the high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) system to the German air force. The German parliament last week opened an investigation into the Euro Hawk affair and is expected to interview senior executives from both companies, as well as military and government officials, before reporting in early September.
Europe’s failure to launch a medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAV to compete with long-established offerings from Israel and the U.S. was a major talking point at last week’s Paris Air Show. AIN’s team of editors and reporters provided full coverage of the world’s biggest aerospace event; all the stories can be found online at www.ainonline.com–some of them in longer form than we were able to publish in our four print editions of Paris Airshow News.
The latest attempt to launch a European Male (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) UAV development was highlighted here yesterday when the chief executive officers of Alenia, Dassault and EADS Cassidian shook hands. The three companies said they “have a common view” on a joint program to meet “the security needs of our European governments and armed forces.”
The $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India will be completed by the end of the year. That was the confident prediction of Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, at an eve-of-show press conference. Since India selected the French combat jet in January 2012, negotiations have dragged on, with thorny issues of local partnerships, offsets and liabilities unresolved.
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