Alenia Aeronautica is looking for a partner to develop a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air system to rival the Franco-British venture announced earlier this year by BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation.

Giuseppe Giordo, chief executive of the Finmeccanica subsidiary, said the Italian airframer is happy to "go it alone" without its European neighbours. It follows the signing in November last year of a memorandum of understanding between the UK and French governments to jointly commission a next-generation MALE UAS from BAE and Dassault.

Alenia Aeronautica Sky-Y
  © Alenia Aeronautica

However, limited funds from the Italian government for a home-grown MALE UAS means Alenia will have to seek export customers, probably in partnership with at least one overseas domestic manufacturer, said Giordo.

Alenia has been flight testing a MALE UAS demonstrator called the Sky-Y, fitted with an Alenia-designed flight-control system. Although sister Finmeccanica units would be involved in the design of the new aircraft's technologies, Alenia would be the "system integrator", said Giordo.

BAE and Dassault have completed a feasibility study and will shortly submit a joint proposal to the French and UK defence ministries for the design, development, production and support of their MALE UAS.

The Anglo-French commitment follows an earlier attempt between Alenia, Dassault and Sweden's Saab to co-operate on a MALE UAV. The three companies signed a letter of intent in 2007 to work together on a project that would have been led by Alenia.

Alenia is one of five European partners collaborating on the Dassault-led Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle technology demonstrator programme.

Source: Flight International