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Europe unveils new unmanned combat aerial vehicle


The nEUROn UCAV. A Dassault photo

ISTRES, FRANCE (BNS): French defence major Dassault Aviation has unveiled nEUROn -- an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator -- being developed in partnership with five other European countries.

The pilotless combat aircraft was officially presented to representatives of the six participating countries -- France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Greece and Switzerland -- on January 20.

The nEUROn programme was launched by the French defence ministry in 2003 with the aim to design and develop an advanced combat unmanned aerial vehicle capable of fighting futuristic warfare and perform stealth missions.

Sweden's Saab, Italy's Alenia Aermacchi, Spain's EADS-CASA, Greece's HAI and Switzerland's RUAG later joined the programme.

The first engine tests of the UCAV will be performed very soon, aiming at a first flight mid-2012, Dasault said. This will be followed by a complete sequence of test flights during two years in France, Sweden and Italy.

These tests will address flight qualities, stealthiness, air-to-ground weapon firing from an internal bay, integration into a C4i environment as well as the insertion of uninhabited platform in airspace, the French defence firm said.

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