By Peter La Franchi in London

Germany's "Agile unmanned air vehicle in a networked environment" demonstration may evolve into a common European long-endurance UAV development project if enough nations join, says Wulf Hausen, head of UAV programmes in the German federal office of defence technology.

Talks are continuing with other European nations on options for development of a European medium-endurance UAV, he says, with this including the option for expansion of Agile into a wider programme.

The EADS-developed Barracuda high-speed reconnaissance UAV demonstrator could form part of the future programme, he says. Final decisions and commitments are still to be made by European governments interested in acquiring similar capabilities, he says.

Speaking at the Shephard Unmanned Vehicle Europe conference in London on 13 July, Hausen said that the only viable way forward for development of long endurance and advanced capability UAVs in Europe is through multinational efforts.

"It will only work if we - and when I say we I mean not just Germany, but a combination of European nations - would go ahead with an advanced UAV because financially speaking not a single country in Europe is able to accommodate the total costs within their budget. That is the case in Germany.

"The total concept is that if we find a sufficient number of partners it would work because the technology is there - we have the technological base for that."

EADS will unveil models of a medium-altitude long-endurance version of Barracuda at Farnborough, having acknowledged work on the derivative concept at the Berlin air show in May.

The BWB hopes to kick off the Agile demonstration by early next year with industry teams required to be formed by the end of next month and formal government co-operation commitments in place by the end of the year.

EADS France Military Air Systems UAV Systems sales director Gerard Deterne told the conference that the company is continuing to participate in multinational discussions on options for a European successor programme to its troubled Euromale project. "The so-called Euromale is somewhat changing in the way the solution is going to be brought [into being], but nothing has been decided," he said.

Source: Flight International