While the British are touting their UCAV capabilities to the world, the six European countries that have partnered to produce the Neuron UCAV demonstrator are quietly getting on with their own tasks.
The British government is reviewing a security agreement signed previously with the U.S. that could preclude future cooperation with Europe on unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs). Last week’s unveiling of the all-British Taranis stealthy UCAV demonstrator by BAE Systems has brought renewed focus on whether European governments and industry can or should unite to fully develop such a system.
Amid tight security, the Taranis Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (shown above) was unveiled at BAE Systems Warton airfield last Monday. Uncleared visitors were not allowed to approach the aircraft, but the stealth-driven configuration seemed unchanged from artists’ impressions previously released. The Taranis concept demonstrator is due to fly next year from an undisclosed overseas airbase.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) recently completed flight tests of its new Lynx advanced multi-channel radar (AMR) on its own Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The AMR combines the functions of a synthetic aperture radar and a ground moving target indicator.
Sweden became the first export customer for the Textron/AAI Shadow 200 tactical unmanned aircraft system when a contract for two Shadow systems was finally completed on May 18. The contract was to be signed in 2008, but was deferred due to budgetary problems.
Amid tight security, the Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) was unveiled at BAE Systems’ Warton airfield in England this week. Uncleared visitors were not allowed to approach the aircraft, but the stealth-driven configuration seemed unchanged from artists’ impressions released previously. The Taranis concept demonstrator is due to fly next year from an undisclosed overseas airbase.
Although developed to help answer the UK’s surveillance requirements, the BAE Systems Mantis unmanned air vehicle technology demonstrator has become the focus of wider interest from elsewhere in Europe. The UAV is seen now as a potential platform to answer the time-critical requirements of France and Italy, as well as the UK itself, and will inevitably draw interest from other nations such as Germany and Spain.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) chose the Navy League convention to introduce a carrier-capable version of its Predator C UAV. GA-ASI has proposed the Sea Avenger for the emerging U.S. Navy Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (UClass). It is based on the jet-powered, stealthy development of the Predator series that GA-ASI has funded through design, development and into flight test.
The U.S. Air Force is wresting with the manpower, training and cultural issues that surround the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In his presentation to the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference (DIAC) last November,* USAF commander General Norton Schwartz outlined the new terminology and career fields that the service is introducing in response.
The U.S. Air Force has finally acknowledged the existence of a stealthy air vehicle operating over Afghanistan, after another photo of the so-called “Beast of Kandahar” was published on the French Web site Secret Defense. Designated the RQ-170 Sentinel, the tailless flying wing was designed by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and is providing reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces, the USAF said.