Boeing Frontiers
October 2003
Volume 02, Issue 06
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Industry Wrap

Dassault developing unmanned combat aircraft concepts

Dassault, a French aerospace company known for its financially conservative approach to new programs, is now developing concepts for unmanned combat aircraft, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.

The company is working on at least two unmanned concepts for the military: a stealth UCAV based on its Gran Duc design, and a reconnaissance unmanned air vehicle from its Moyen Duc project. Dassault expects the UCAV prototype to fly within the decade, while it has slated the UAV's first flight for 2004.

The unmanned combat aircraft's design has just begun with the company preparing a range of options for the French army, Jean Marc Merialdo, a senior analyst in Dassault's international directorate, told the publication: "In the absence of a real military program, it's difficult to set up a strategy" for the company's development of the unmanned aircraft.

According to the magazine, Dassault's UCAV is expected to interact and complement the French fighter force. Discussions are underway about fitting two-seat versions of Dassault's new Rafale fighter to carry a weapons system operator in the aft position with the capability to control up to four unmanned combat aircraft, Aviation Week said.

That doesn't necessarily mean the UCAV will be able to match Rafale performance, Merialdo said. Other company officials suggested that high performance was a goal, but government funding will likely dictate what the operational aircraft is finally capable of doing.


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