BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly design, develop and produce a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for the United Kingdom and France.
The memorandum of understanding will enable the two companies to establish a framework under which they may jointly pursue this long term business opportunity, BAE Systems said in a statement.
The agreement follows the United Kingdom and French Governments agreement at the Anglo-French Summit in November 2010 to collaborate on the next generation MALE UAS to meet the requirements of both countries.
BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation have already completed a joint MALE UAS feasibility study for the United Kingdom and French Governments. This study has given both companies the confidence to move to the next stage of developing a joint proposal that will harness the UAS capabilities of both BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation, the statement continued.
Kevin Taylor, Managing Director Military Air & Information at BAE Systems said: “A successful BAE Systems/Dassault Aviation solution will ensure that the UK and France maintain their status as leading providers of aerospace capability. It will also ensure that both countries get the best return on the investment they have made in state-of-the-art technologies and UASs. We have a strong team in place that is ready to develop the future frontline UAS capability required by both the UK and France.”
Eric Trappier, Executive Vice President International at Dassault Aviation also commented: “BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation’s joint experience and proven capabilities, together with an efficient co-operation process, allow us to offer a MALE UAS that will provide the UK and France with a cost-effective intelligent autonomous exploitation system to meet both countries’ military requirements to schedule and within the budgetary constraints under which both governments will operate in future. We look forward to a swift development go-ahead decision from the two governments soon.”
BAE Systems has developed several unmanned aerial systems, including the Herti and Mantis. The latter has cost BAE Systems 100 million pounds to develop. Dassault, on the other hand, is working on the nEUROn UAV with several European partners.
Meanwhile, EADS is also working an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could rival the BAE Systems/Dassault offering. The European company has held talks with France, Spain and Germany on developing the Talarion aircraft.
In mid-January EADS chief executive officer Louis Gallois warned against the existence of two competing MALE UAV programmes in Europe while affirming EADS’s intention to continue development of its self-financed Talarion. He said European nations should ‘make a choice’ about their future MALE UAV capability and described how the co-existence of Talarion and Mantis programmes would be a ‘risk’.
EADS confirmed that it had offered up Talarion in response to an invitation to tender for the UK’s ‘Scavenger’ ISTAR UAV requirement.