Julian Moxon/Paris

Aerospatiale is working on a follow-on to work on high altitude, long endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) in a programme, called SAROHALE.

Delivery of the initial system is set for "around 2007-10", says project manager Philippe Matharan. The project aims to develop a fully automated twinjet-powered UAV that will be "-part of an operational scheme that will merge all intelligence data", he says.

The aircraft will have a 24h endurance, patrolling at altitudes of between 60,000ft (18,000m) and 65,000ft, and at speeds of up to Mach 0.65. With a 5,300kg take-off weight, it would carry a 500kg "multimission" payload up to 2,500km from the departure point. Matharan says the programme is no more than an "advanced concept study" and that "only theoretical work" has been carried out.

Aeospatiale's aircraft division is performing the studies, along with its Socata general aviation division and the systems engineering and information technologies divisions. It declines to reveal details of the vehicle's planned test programme, but confirms that validation of many of the technologies and mission profiles is being carried out aboard one of its TBM700 single turbine business aircraft.

Work on the programme comes as US companies Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical and Lockheed Martin/Boeing are developing, respectively, the Global Hawk and Dark Star high altitude long endurance UAVs, for service in 2003.

Source: Flight International