THE FRANCO/GERMAN Eurodrone Brevel unmanned air vehicle has undergone its first test flight with a fully equipped payload, in preparation for the beginning of system trials in July. Eurodrone says that the Brevel is still on target for its planned 1998 in-service date.

Only three systems have been funded to date for development and testing, although Eurodrone, a 50/50 alliance between France's Matra Defense and Germany's STN Atlas Elektronik, says that it "-fully expects" funding for production vehicles to be forthcoming.

Brevel development began after contract award in November 1992, to satisfy a requirement of the armies of both countries for real-time surveillance. Five to seven vehicles are supplied with each ground-control station, along with datalink and launch and recovery vehicles. The stabilized three-axis infra-red camera carried aboard the aircraft, says Eurodrone, has "-exceeded expectations" in early field testing.

Advantages claimed for the Brevel are its small size, and hence low observability, easy handling, and high image quality. The frequency-agile datalink is jam-resistant, and allows the image to be maintained at a distance of 130km (70nm) and elevation of 2°.

The wings are foldable, and heated to prevent icing. Launch is by booster, with propulsion supplied by a twin-cylinder two-stroke engine. An endurance of up to 6h is claimed. The Brevel is derived from the Tucan UAV originally developed by STN Atlas, Matra being responsible for development of the ground-control station and associated software.

Eurodrone also offers the low-cost Tucan '95 UAV, with a less sophisticated datalink and non-folding, non-heated, wings.

Source: Flight International