France and the UK will jointly develop a new medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV that could enter service in 2015. The two countries are also likely to combine forces on future unmanned combat air systems (UCAS), by launching a “joint technology and operational demonstration” to run for six years, beginning in 2013. The decisions form part of the cross-channel agreement between the two countries.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B UCAS-D carrier-borne unmanned combat air system demonstrator is currently undergoing sub-system checks before final assembly for a first flight date in November next year. Having been developed at El Segundo, the first X-47B (AV-1) is now at Palmdale, California, where the vehicle’s centerbody/inner wing structure is essentially complete.