Tactical and high-speed vehicles on show as Sagem displays armed Sperwer LE and Thales Watchkeeper details emerge

Italian manufacturer Meteor unveiled the Falco and Nibbio unmanned air vehicles at the Eurosatory defence show in Paris last week. Falco is a tactical UAV while Nibbio is intended to replace high-speed systems such as the Bombardier/EADS CL-289.

Carlo Siardi, business development manager, says the UAVs' first flights are due next year. Falco, a medium-altitude, endurance UAV, will carry a 70kg (155lb) payload for up to 14h. Siardi says Meteor is eyeing three piston-engine options. The UAV's shoulder-mounted wing has significant anhedral, which Siardi says gives the UAV a measure of low-observability and stability for short take-off and landing. Payload options include electro-optical sensors, synthetic aperture radar and electronic surveillance.

Meteor, a subsidiary of Italy's Galileo Avionica, has developed Nibbio from its Mirach 100/5 target drone. It will carry the same payload weight as Falco, but travel at Mach 0.85. Payload options are the same as Falco, but include an infrared linescan sensor in the nose.

Sagem displayed its Sperwer LE, which it intends to offer in armed versions. Sperwer LE has a 6.5m (21.3ft) wingspan, nearly twice that of earlier Sperwers, and a 6-12h endurance depending on payload weight. Sagem says the UAV has flown, but not entered service.

Potential Sperwer LE weapons include a version of Raytheon's Javelin shoulder-launched anti-armour weapon modified bySagem for UAV use, the Saab/Bofors Strix anti-armour missile and Bonus anti-armour round, and the TDA F2 unguided rocket.

More details of platforms for the UK's Watchkeeper programme also emerged at the show. Thales is offering Silver Arrow's Hermes 180 tactical UAV and the larger Hermes 450, while EADS has teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer the EADS Eagle for the medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) requirement, say industry sources.

Silver Arrow completed the first flight of the Hermes 180 on 15 May. The 10h-endurance UAV is designed to use the datalinks, sensors and components from the company's other programmes. It will be offered with ramp launch and parachute-landing, or with a wheeled undercarriage for operation from runways.

EADS intends to use the Eagle, which was developed from the Israeli Aircraft Industries Heron, as the basis for its EuroMALE, say company sources.

Source: Flight International