France is using the pan-European nEUROn unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator to progress the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF) programme that it is developing with Germany and Spain.
The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) procurement agency announced on 20 February that flight trials of the nEUROn UCAV are being carried out by the Military Air Expertise Centre (CEAM), the Air Force Airborne Control Detection Squadron (EDCA), and by Dassault Aviation.
"One of its objectives was to study the use of a stealth combat drone in an operational context, [while] also involving reflection on defence tactics [by an adversary] in the face of such a [use]", the DGA said in a statement.
As noted by the DGA, the tests have involved the nEUROn flying in concert with five Dassault Rafale combat aircraft and a Boeing E-3F Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft, "in multiple tactical configurations".
"This new campaign brings extremely rich lessons in the area of stealth and associated advanced technologies. The results are being analysed in depth, [and are being] jointly conducted by several centres of expertise and testing of the DGA. They will bring [together] major elements to guide the choices of architecture and technology of the SCAF", the DGA said.
The nEUROn is a stealth UCAV test bed that dates back to 2006 and that made its maiden flight in 2012. Dassault was the prime contractor on the project, with contributing companies being Alenia Aermacchi (Italy), EADS CASA (Spain), Hellenic Aerospace Industry (Greece), RUAG (Switzerland), Saab (Sweden), and Thales (France). The EUR400 million (USD433 million) programme was not intended to produce an operational platform, but was instead aimed at developing European aerospace technology.
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