The new French Minister of the Armed Forces and the new defence procurement chief had a close-up look at the UCAV demonstrator as a new round of testing gets under way.
The new French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, visited the Dassault Aviation Istres site on 4th September. Accompanied by Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, and Joël Barre, the new chief executive of the French defense procurement agency (DGA), she had the opportunity to follow a test flight by the nEUROn unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator from the monitoring room.
The officials were able to take a close-up look at the plane as soon as it returned from flight, allowing them to see confidential aspects of the design.
Launched in 2006 to explore the next generation of combat aircraft, the Neuron programme is managed by the DGA, with Dassault as prime contractor. It involves five other European partners : Italy (with Alenia Aermacchi), Sweden (Saab), Spain (Airbus Defence & Space), Greece (HAI) and Switzerland (Ruag). One of the programme objectives is to demonstrate that European multinational defence programmes — which in the past have often been synonymous with delays and cost overruns — can be managed efficiently.
The initial phase of testing (December 2012 - September 2015) included 123 flights in France, Italy and Sweden. A further series of tests (15 flights) was launched by the DGA in May 2016 to study the use of a UCAV in a naval context. The tests currently getting under way appear to be part of an additional phase of testing to study future aircraft technologies.