Europe’s unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) stealth technology demonstrator, nEUROn successfully completed its maiden flight from the Dassault Aviation company’s flight test base in Istres, France, on December 1 in collaboration with the flight test personnel of the French DGA defense procurement agency who controlled the air space during the flight test.
The nEUROn program was launched in 2006 by the DGA, and involves France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Greece and Switzerland. It was never intended to become a prototype UCAV but rather a project to maintain a future for aeronautic excellence and know-how in Europe.
With Dassault Aviation as prime contractor, the program was designed to pool the skills and know-how of Alenia Aermacchi (Italy), Saab (Sweden), EADS-CASA (Spain), HAI (Greece), RUAG (Switzerland) and Thales (France).
The 10 meter-long vehicle with a wing-span of 12.5 meters has an empty weight of 5 tons and is powered by a Rolls-Royce “Adour” engine.
The nEUROn will continue to undergo testing in France until 2014, at which time it will be sent to Vidsel in Sweden for a series of operational trials. It will then go to the Perdadesfogu range (Italy) for further tests, in particular firing and stealth measurements.
NEUROn is financed by the upstream research budget of the French defense ministry which said in a statement on Saturday that “NEUROn marks a major research and technology effort to prepare the future and maintain essential industrial competences. It inaugurates the next generation of fighter aircraft, piloted or not, with the aim of preserving European autonomy in this domain.”