Alenia Aeronautica has unveiled an unmanned air vehicle/unmanned combat air vehicle technology demonstrator and is looking to involve other European firms in the project.

The UAV has stealth features, a 550kg (1,210lb) empty weight and a 1,000kg maximum take-off weight. Payload capability is 300kg.

The 5.74m (18.8ft) span wing's leading edge is swept 35¡ and has a W configuration trailing edge to increase the wing's surface area and improve the UAV's stealth characteristics. The vehicle has a V-tail to mask the exhaust from the dorsal-mounted, 990lb-thrust (4.4kN) Microturbo TR160-5 engine.

The demonstrator is expected to have a 300m take-off run and land in 510m. Maximum speed is predicted as 450kt (830km/h) or Mach 0.74 at 25,000ft. Cruise speed is M0.6 and operational ceiling will be 33,000ft. As it is a demonstrator, the UAV's range is limited to 185km (100nm).

Funding is mostly internal, with the development programme split into two phases. The first phase, performed by Alenia, Galileo Avionica and other Italian companies, will include the first flight-test campaign as well as the development of payloads to be integrated into interchangeable modules. This phase is due to be completed next year.

The second phase, from 2005, will see the demonstrator operate as a flying testbed for UAV-related payloads from within the Finmeccanica group. Configuration changes will include a tailless delta design, allowing an increased fuel load and operational autonomy. UCAV capabilities will be tested with attack manoeuvre simulations, weapons delivery and mission control.

Source: Flight International