Prototype of European combat drone makes maiden flight

December 2, 2012 by Patrick Rahir
A prototype of a European combat drone, the Neuron, makes its maiden flight Saturday from a base in the south of France, project leader Dassault Aviation announces.

A prototype of a European combat drone, the Neuron, made its maiden flight Saturday from a base in the south of France, project leader Dassault Aviation announced.

"It inaugurates the next generation of combat aircraft, whether piloted or not, with the ambition of preserving European autonomy in this field," the French said in a statement.

"It's a major accomplishment on both the technological and industrial levels," it added.

The aircraft, which has no vertical tail in order to make it as furtive as possible, flew for 25 minutes under the watch of two test pilots based on the ground.

The Neuron is a prototype, or model serving to test and develop technologies that could be used one day in a pilotless fighter plane which would equip European air forces around 2030.

The programme, launched by France in 2003 with support from Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, cost 406 million euros ($527 million), of which France contributed about half.

Drones currently in service are used as surveillance planes or in surgical strike missions, but none rival the tasks performed by combat aircraft.

Under current , drones could be used on the first day of a conflict to destroy enemy anti-air defences, but will not replace piloted planes.

"Today nobody imagines a future with planes without pilots," said Dassault's technical director general Eric Gondoin.

Unlike the Pentagon, which is due soon to call for bids for the production of a first fighter , the Europeans cannot currently afford to build such a weapon.

In the meantime, Dassault is appealing for financing by European governments interested in a new programme to build an operational prototype, in order to preserve engineering know-how.

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1 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2012
"Unlike the Pentagon, which is due soon to call for bids...Europeans cannot currently afford to build such a weapon."

"Europeans" can easily afford it. The problem is there is no such thing as a European defense. Each nation decides if they wan to contribute. On top of that it`s priorities. Washington gives some 23 billion dollars per year on foreign aid. EU nations together give just over 55 Billion Euro`s. That`s over 70 Billion dollars per year. Mostly to African nations.

Europe needs to step up and pick it`s priorities: It`s Own defense and it`s Own economy. They need a combined military and military budget.

The EU nations currently spend some 400 Billion Dollars together on the military. Exactly in between US and China.

And More then enough for a group of nations that combined have very few bases around the world and only a few medium to small aircraft carriers. Enough to build European combat drones. If they push for it. But the EU is focusing it seems on creating 1 army.

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