Prototype of European combat drone makes maiden flight

Dec 02, 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.

Explore further: Researchers use passive UHF RFID tags to detect how people interact with objects

Related Stories

US Air Force calls drone fleet virus a 'nuisance'

Oct 13, 2011

A computer virus that hit the US drone fleet last month created a "nuisance" but no serious threat to flight operations for the unmanned aircraft, the US Air Force said Wednesday. ...

Chinese stealth fighter makes first test flight

Jan 11, 2011

China's radar-eluding stealth fighter made its first-known test flight Tuesday, marking dramatic progress in the country's efforts to develop cutting-edge military technologies.

Recommended for you

Intellectual property in 3D printing

Apr 16, 2015

The implications of intellectual property in 3D printing have been outlined in two documents created for the UK government by Bournemouth University's Dinusha Mendis and Davide Secchi, and Phil Reeves of Econolyst Ltd.

World-record electric motor for aircraft

Apr 16, 2015

Siemens researchers have developed a new type of electric motor that, with a weight of just 50 kilograms, delivers a continuous output of about 260 kilowatts – five times more than comparable drive systems. ...

Space open for business, says Electron launch system CEO

Apr 15, 2015

Space, like business, is all about time and money, said Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, a US company with a New Zealand subsidiary. The problem, he added, is that, in cost and time, space has remained an incredibly ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

maxb500_live_nl
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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.