2 December 2012
Europe’s nEUROn UCAV demonstrator makes its maiden flight
By Darren Quick


The nEUROn Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator on its maiden flight

The European designed nEUROn Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator successfully completed its maiden flight on December 1, 2012. The flight took place at Dassault Aviation’s flight test base in Istres in southern France and marks a milestone for the nEUROn program that was launched in 2005 by the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) that involves the collaboration of six European countries.

The nEUROn Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator takes to the air for the first time

Measuring 9.2 m (30 ft) long and boasting a wingspan of 12.5 m (41 ft), the stealth technology demonstrator is the first large size stealth platform designed in Europe. It has an empty weight of 5 tons (4.5 tonnes) and a maximum weight of 7 tons (6.3 tonnes). Powered by a Rolls-Royce Turbomeca “Adour” engine, the nEUROn can fly for three hours and reach a maximum speed of Mach 0.8.

With the aim of the program to develop expertise in advanced aeronautics amongst the participating countries and industries, the aircraft itself isn’t intended for serial production, but will be used to test various technologies for future UAVs and UCAVs, including Saab’s next-generation Gripen.

The nEUROn Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator takes off on its maiden flight

France’s Dassault Aviation is serving as the nEUROn program’s prime contractor, with involvement from Alenia Aermacchi (Italy), Saab (Sweden), EADS-CASA (Spain), Hellenic Aerospace Industry (Greece), RUAG (Switzerland), and Thales (France).

Testing in France will continue until 2014, when it will be transferred to Vidsel in Sweden for a series of operational trials. It will then move onto Italy’s Perdadesfogu range for further testing focused on firing and stealth capabilities.

The nEUROn Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator being unveiled in January, 2012

Sources: Saab, Dassault Aviation

About the Author

Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick

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