UK-based BAE Systems and French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation are to jointly develop a new medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system to be offered to the military in France and the UK.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding follows an agreement between the UK and French governments in November 2010 to collaborate on the next-generation MALE UAS to meet the requirements of both countries.

BAE and Dassault will collaborate exclusively on the preparation and submission of a joint proposal to the UK and French ministries of defence for the design, development, production and support of the MALE UAS.

The two companies have already completed a feasibility study for the project that will feed into the joint proposal.

Kevin Taylor, managing director Military Air & Information at BAE Systems says: "A successful BAE Systems/Dassault Aviation solution will ensure that the UK and France maintain their status as leading providers of aerospace capability.

"It will also ensure that both countries get the best return on the investment they have made in state-of-the-art technologies and UAS. We have a strong team in place that is ready to develop the future frontline UAS capability required by both the UK and France."

Eric Trappier, executive vice-president international at Dassault, says that the skills of both companies will allow them to provide a cost-effective system "to meet both countries' military requirements to schedule and within the budgetary constraints under which both governments will operate in future".

He adds: "We look forward to a swift development go-ahead decision from the two governments soon."

Source: Flight International