Helsinki seeks industrial participation in UAV project, and backs EDA plan

The Finnish government is pushing for management of the German-initiated networked unmanned air vehicle - or Agile - programme and the supporting EADS new-generation UAV project to be transferred to the European Defence Agency (EDA) to aid its expansion into a common European development effort. The country's defence ministry has also approved direct national industrial involvement in the development of new deep penetration and medium-altitude, long-endurance versions of the proposed system.

Potential acquisition of the deep penetration version, based on the successor to EADS's Barracuda unmanned reconnaissance air vehicle demonstrator, is also under consideration, says defence minister Dr Seppo Kääriäinen. The Finnish air force needs a reconnaissance and target acquisition system "using effective UAVs and modern sensors" to support future long-range ground-attack operations, he says.

Finland's defence ministry set up a national UAV technology project two years ago to explore options, including possible participation in the Dassault-led Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle effort and the former EADS-led Euromale initiative. "Based on evaluation done in the national technology programme, Agile is seen as a potential solution to fulfil the Finnish performance requirements," says Kääriäinen. Finland also "supports the idea to bring Agile under the EDA framework".

Finland received its first detailed technical briefings on the Agile programme in November, and "supports the hope of the Finnish industry to receive information", says Kääriäinen. The industrial co-operation project will see Patria and Tampere-based Insta team with EADS to explore a new wide-spectrum secure datalink, with concept development studies to run through 2007. The datalink would leverage Insta and Patria technologies fielded by the Finnish air force's Boeing F-18C/D Hornet fighters.

Source: Flight International