Filur demonstrator's characteristics will be evaluated against air defence systems
Saab Aerosystems has completed initial radar cross-section testing of its stealthy Filur unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator, and expects to fly the aircraft for the first time later this year.
The project recently entered its fourth phase, with the vehicle's avionics and control systems also under evaluation using a Saab test rig. "We are meeting the requirements we outlined in 2001," says project manager Jan Bostrom.
One Filur demonstrator has been manufactured and will enter flight testing in the third quarter of this year at Sweden's Vidsel test range. The programme will comprise airworthiness testing and demonstrations to evaluate the vehicle's stealth characteristics against air defence systems. Saab is unsure whether operations of the 2.2m (7.2ft) -long demonstrator will continue in 2006 or if all test objectives will be met this year. The Filur has a 2.5m wingspan, top speed of over 135kt (250km/h) and maximum take-off weight of 55kg (120lb).
Sweden is also expected to take a stake worth about 25% in the French-led Neuron UCAV demonstrator project, and Saab expects to sign an agreement with Dassault this month to launch the €300-400 million ($390-520 million) programme. Four "families" of UCAV configurations are under study, says Mikael Franzen, Saab Aerosystems' programme director for UAV systems, with one of these to be selected for development and flight testing in France and Sweden from 2009. Saab could provide avionics equipment and design and airworthiness services for the Neuron, along with its fuel system, fuselage and low-observable engine nozzle and doors.
A decision is also expected early this year by the Swedish defence ministry on whether to back Saab's aspirations to join the proposed c300 million Euromale unmanned air vehicle project with France, the Netherlands and Spain.
Saab, meanwhile, plans to also conduct a further demonstration in 2007 to prove its ability to create a modular family of UAVs comprising a UCAV, medium-altitude long-endurance vehicle and a multirole tactical system capable of conducting routine operations in non-segregated European airspace.
The "Demo 07" project will prove Saab's ability to create a modular avionics and software architecture for UAVs, it says. Saab is currently seeking a partner for its future tactical UAV activities, which it believes will include commercial applications and is in talks with several firms.
CRAIG HOYLE / LINKOPING
Source: Flight International