BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the design, development, production and support of a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system for the UK and French defence ministries.
The two companies will prepare and submit a joint proposal to the UK and French ministries of defence for exclusive development of the UAS, a joint release said today. The MoU will enable the two companies to establish a framework under which they may jointly pursue this long-term business opportunity.
This MoU follows an agreement between the UK and French governments 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 feasibility study of the medium altitude long endurance unmanned aircraft system and are confident to move to the next stage of harnessing the UAS capabilities of both BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation, it said.
BAE has already spent £100m building the Mantis UAS, designed for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. A lot of the technology from Mantis will go into the new aircraft in the joint programme, said Kevin Taylor, head of BAE’s military aircraft division.
“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,” Kevin Taylor, managing director military Air and Information at BAE Systems, said.
“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,” Eric Trappier, executive vice president (international) at Dassault Aviation, added.
The MoU will see the two companies fund a development programme. They hope that will lead to an order from the two governments within the year, to build a demonstrator UAS with the ability to fly itself as well as being operated remotely.
EADS is also working on its Talarion UAS and has already held talks with France, Germany and Spain on developing the aircraft, which would be a competitor to the newly announced project.