PARIS – With the completion of its 100th flight in February, the European Neuron unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator has finished its test campaign in France and will now move to Italy and later Sweden, where weapons-drop tests with the Mk. 82 bomb are planned at the Visdel range later this year.

Led by Dassault Aviation and French defense procurement agency DGA, the €405 million ($439.8 million) multinational Neuron technology demonstrator debuted in December 2012, marking the first flight of a European stealth aircraft as well as the first European UCAS.

Dassault says throughout the test campaign, the Neuron and associated equipment "demonstrated exemplary availability and reliability," according to a March 9 announcement.

In the first phase of trials, Neuron’s flight envelope was opened, including tests with the weapon bay doors open, to demonstrate the electro-optical sensor and evaluate datalink performance.

In the second phase, most flights were dedicated to infrared and electromagnetic signature/detection confrontations against operational systems. Dassault says these confrontations, which ran as expected, were performed under the authority of DGA. The Neuron, in full stealth configuration, was operated by Dassault, which says stealth-related data and feedback will now serve as a reference for future aircraft projects.

"This success demonstrates Dassault Aviation’s know-how in strategic technologies and prime contractorship, as well as its ability to lead programs involving European cooperation," the company said.

In the meantime, France and the U.K. continue work on a two-year feasibility study of a future combat air system (FCAS) that could pave the way for joint development of a stealthy UCAS led by Britain’s BAE Systems and France’s Dassault.

The two nations announced plans to work together on an FCAS Demonstration Program in January 2014 and signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the terms of the €150 million study at the Farnborough air show in July last year.

The FCAS study will weigh the cost and feasibility of demonstrating new technological capabilities against operational requirements for developing a next-generation combat system, including those showcased under the Dassault-led Neuron and Britain’s highly secretive Taranis project, a £185 million ($300 million) UCAS effort unveiled in February.

In preparation for the study, the two nations have agreed on five primary mission sets, including suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses (SEAD/DEAD), airfield attack, strategic strike, air interdiction in a contested environment and armed reconnaissance. Secondary missions could include anti-ship, close air support and defensive counter-air measures.

Both nations are targeting a per-aircraft cost that will be lower than that of Dassault’s Rafale combat jet and Britain’s Eurofighter Typhoon, though achieving such cost objectives likely requires that the jointly developed system be based on a single, common variant.