Paris show report 2003 - EADS sets out its stall for French army UAV contest

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Modified Meteor Mirach and new vertical take-off and landing vehicle unveiled at show

EADS has unveiled concepts for a 12h endurance tactical unmanned air vehicle and is to modify the Meteor Mirach 100.5 target drone into a low-altitude, high-speed surveillance system as a candidate for the French army's ongoing Multicapteurs MultiMission (MCMM) requirement.

EADS is also providing more details on its plans for a new vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV, designated the Orka-1200.

The new fixed-wing endurance tactical UAV, designated the Surveryor 2500, is derived from the DynAero MCR S4 manned light aircraft. EADS says the unmanned version would have a wingspan of 6.9m (22.6ft), including winglets, a maximum take-off weight of 450kg (1,000lb) and a maximum speed of 195kt (360km/h). The aircraft would be catapult launched and recovered using a runway. Parachute recovery is also being studied.

EADS says the French procurement agency DGA has provided development funding for the air vehicle as part of feasibility studies for the MCMM requirement.

The MCMM programme is intended to field a "fast/slow" replacement for France's Sperwer tactical and CL-389 low-altitude, high-speed UAV systems by 2010. Dassault-Sagem is also competing for the requirement.

EADS plans to offer the Surveyor 2500 to meet the "slow" requirement, while the Mirach 100.5 derivative, designated Surveyor 600, would meet the "fast" requirement.

Surveyor 600 re-uses the Mirach 100.5 airframe, powerplant and navigation systems, but would have a 2.3m-span wing equipped with two hardpoints for additional sensors or stores. The Mirach 100.5 has a maximum take-off weight of 340kg. Surveyor 600 will have a maximum take-off weight of 450kg and a range of 150km (80nm). Maximum mission time is projected at up to 3.5h.

The DGA has funded construction of a prototype Surveyor 600 system equipped with a dual electronic support measures/electro-optical infrared payload to fly in the first half of 2005 under a demonstration programme designated Carapas.

The Orka-1200 is derived from the two-seat Cabri manned helicopter now being developed by Helicopteres Guimbal for the civil market. A full-scale model of the UAV was exhibited by EADS. A prototype version is expected to begin flight tests late in 2004.

The Orka-1200 VTOL UAV design is intended to have a maximum take-off weight of 680kg and a maximum speed of 105kt. The proposed payload capacity is 180kg.