The European Defence Agency (EDA) has unveiled long-endurance unmanned air vehicles (LE-UAV) as one of its four flagship research programmes for 2005, launching two technology areas directly related to current projects.

The agency, created last year, briefed more than 50 European companies in Brussels last week on the two technology areas chosen by military chiefs from European Union member states as representing “critical gaps in the capabilities needed for long-endurance UAVs”. The areas – sense-and-avoid technologies and digital datalinks for line-of-sight and beyond line-of-sight communications – are aimed at increasing LE-UAV performance within a wider intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance architecture.

The EDA says the formal process for awarding contracts will begin soon, with initial technology demonstration studies to be placed by year-end using funds from its 2005 budget.

The launch of competitive tenders comes as a blow to EADS, which had been pushing to have its Euromale medium-altitude long-endurance UAV declared the de facto European research programme (Flight International, 14-20 June).

Justin Wastnage / London

Source: Flight International