The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) and Dassault Aviation have tested a nEURON demonstrator along with five Rafale fighter jets and an AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft, in multiple tactical configurations.
The fifth test campaign was conducted at the Istres-Le Tubé Air Base. One of the objectives of the campaign was to study the use of a stealth combat drone in an operational context, also involving reflection on defense tactics in the face of such a vector, French Ministry of Defense said in a statement Thursday.
The outcomes of the test will be used in the ambitious Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project that consists of a manned Next-Generation Fighter (NGF) aircraft, accompanied by drones of specialized capabilities, like reconnaissance and strike.
Launched in 2006, the project is a European cooperation that brings together, in addition to France with Dassault Aviation, five countries and their industrial partners: Italy (Alenia Aermacchi), Sweden (Saab), Spain (Airbus Defence & Space) , Greece (HAI) and Switzerland (RUAG). The DGA provides the project management of the project and Dassault Aviation as prime contractor.
“This new campaign brings extremely rich lessons in the field of stealth and associated advanced technologies. The results are being analyzed in-depth, jointly conducted by several centers of expertise and testing of the DGA. They will bring major elements to guide the choices of architecture and technology of the FCAS,” the DGA said.
The test was supported by French aeronautical research and test center, CEAM (Military Air Expertise Center) and the French Air Force’s Airborne Detection and Control Squadron (l’escadron de détection de contrôle aéroporté, EDCA).
The first test campaign nEURON, conducted on behalf of the six nations between December 2012 and September 2015 included 123 flights. They were first made in Istres for the opening of its flight envelope, the development of the system and the evaluation of its stealth by the DGA.
The nEURON was demonstrated for its performance optronic sensor and its detection algorithms and automatic target recognition, and stealth tests in favor of the Italian Ministry of Defense.