A Laureate Award for the nEUROn programme
On March 6, Europe's nEUROn unmanned combat air vehicle team (UCAV) was awarded a Laureate Award (Defense) by Aviation Week. Thales has made a significant contribution to this success but exactly what is the Group's role on this aircraft?
The Aviation Week Laureate Awards honour the accomplishments of outstanding individuals and teams in aviation, aerospace and defense. The awards highlight pioneers in new technology, innovative new ways of doing business and new initiatives in management and development.
Describing the nEUROn programme “as much a political marvel as a technological one,” Aviation Week chose to reward the pan-European aircraft for its ability to demonstrate “Europe's mastery of the airworthiness of stealthy unmanned aircraft.”
Six European countries involved
The nEUROn programme was launched in 2005 by the DGA (French defence procurement agency) and prime contractor Dassault Aviation. In addition to Thales, five other countries and manufacturers are involved in the design and construction of the aircraft; Alenia Aermacchi (Italy), Saab (Sweden), EADS-CASA (Spain), HAI (Greece), RUAG (Switzerland).
The role of Thales
Thales developments on the programme are concentrated on two principal areas:
- A high-performance GPS hybrid military inertial system and anemometric probes. The inertial system contributes to the primary data (position and attitudes) of the drone. The high level of performance is achieved thanks to hybridization algorithms and to the use of GPS and EGNOS signals.
- A communication system which enables the control-command of the nEUROn via a remote station and the transmitting of images and video from onboard sensors. This secured system works in Ku band with the TMA/G 6000 terminal and in V/UHF band with NextW@ve radio. The use of different frequency bands for each of the two data links greatly reduces the sensitivity of the aircraft to intentional or unintentional electromagnetic interference.
Successful flight trials
On December 1st 2012, the nEUROn technology demonstrator, successfully completed its maiden flight from the Dassault Aviation company's flight test base in Istres, southern France, in collaboration with the flight test personnel of the DGA.
The maiden flight was a key milestone and marked the beginning of around 100 flight trials in Italy, Sweden and France which are scheduled to be completed this year. The trials aim to demonstrate the flight capabilities of the platform, and to assess firing and stealth performance levels.
nEUROn represents a major investment in research and technology for the future and helps to maintain core industrial skills. The demonstrator will help inaugurate next generation fighter aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, with the ambition of maintaining Europe's autonomy in this area.