(Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued Feb. 9, 2006)
(Issued in French only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)
Sweden, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and France have decided to pool their efforts to jointly develop a demonstrator of an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) dubbed Neuron.
These countries have opted to pool their industrial and technological know-how to ensure European independence in the field of military aviation by strengthening synergies between aerospace companies.
The Neuron project was formally launched in 2003, during the Paris air show, by French Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie.
The Neuron project is now effectively launched. The French defence procurement agency, DGA, acting as the program executive on behalf of the participating countries, has awarded Dassault Aviation a contract for the project’s prime contractorship -- in cooperation with Thales and other European manufacturers including Saab, Alenia, EADS Casa, HAI and RUAG Aerospace – for the design and development of the Neuron demonstrator.
The contract is valued at 405 million euros.
This contract award allows industry to begin a three-year system definition and design phase, which will include related low-observability studies. This phase will be followed by the development and assembly phase, and by a first flight in 2011.
Flight tests will be carried out in France, Italy and Sweden. (ends)
Additional Information on Neuron Project
(Compiled by defense-aerospace.com; issued Feb. 10, 2006)
Neuron will be of a size comparable to a Mirage 2000 fighter, with a weight of approximately 6 tonnes, a wingspan of 10-12 meters and a length of 6 meters.
Its main design goals are low-observability (its radar cross-section will be comparable to that of an object the size of a tennis ball), weapon payload (in an internal bay) and launch of air-to-ground weapons.
Neuron will be powered by a single engine, and have a top speed of about Mach 0.8.
It is planned that the 2-year flight-test program (2011-2013) will entail about 100 sorties, including the launch of a laser-guided bomb tentatively scheduled for 2012.
France’s share of the development funding is 185 million euros. Sweden’s defense ministry announced in December that its share would be 75 million euros, of which 66 million financed by Saab AB.
The break-down of development work by company is as follows:
- Dassault Aviation (France): Prime contractor; general design authority; flight controls; final assembly; static and flight testing;
- EADS Casa (Spain): wing; ground control station; data-link integration;
- Alenia Aeronautica (Italy): weapon firing system; air data system; electrical system; flight testing;
- Saab (Sweden): overall design; fuselage; avionics; fuel system; flight testing;
- RUAG Aerospace (Switzerland): wind tunnel tests; weapons carriage;
- Thales (France): data-link; command and control interface;
- HAI (Greece): rear fuselage; tail pipe; systems integration bench.