The French defence procurement agency, DGA, has launched a new round of testing of the nEUROn unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator, including tests with Eurofighter Typhoons.
The French defence procurement agency, DGA, reports that the nEUROn unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator started a fourth round of Low Observability (LO) testing in November. The tests — which are being performed by the DGA with support from Dassault Aviation and are designed to continue through early 2019 — are intended to evaluate the detection capabilities of various operational systems.
The new LO test campaign aims to pursue analysis of the employment of nEUROn-type aircraft and to evaluate the vehicle's stealth characteristics in the presence of airborne sensors and ground-based radar. The tests will enable DGA to evaluate ongoing developments in detection systems, as well as allowing the armed forces to evaluate their capability to detect a stealthy drone representing future threats.
As part of this campaign, two Eurofighter Typhoons from the Spanish Air Force test centre (CLAEX) touched down at the DGA's Istres test site in mid-December to perform test flights with the nEUROn.
Launched in 2006 to explore the next generation of combat aircraft, the nEUROn programme is managed by the DGA, with Dassault as prime contractor. It involves five other European partners : Italy (with Alenia Aermacchi), Sweden (Saab), Spain (Airbus Defence & Space), Greece (HAI) and Switzerland (Ruag). One of the programme objectives is to demonstrate that European multinational defence programmes — which in the past have often been synonymous with delays and cost overruns — can be managed efficiently.
The initial phase of testing (December 2012 - September 2015) included 123 flights in France, Italy and Sweden. A further series of tests (15 flights) was launched by the DGA in May 2016 to study UCAV operations in a naval context. The third round of testing started in September 2017.