Manufacturer developing series of vehicles as part of network-centric defence systems for the Swedish armed forces

Saab is expected to unveil later this week an unmanned air combat vehicle (UCAV), one of a series the company is developing as part of Sweden's network-centric defence programme.

Industry sources say Saab has developed a subscale UCAV weighing around 50kg (110lb) that will be operated on Sweden's large ranges in the north of the country. Saab declines to comment.

It is understood that Saab has built the vehicle to Swedish military aircraft standards rather than as a model aircraft to develop experience in building operational UCAVs.

One of Saab's aims is to develop UAVs with the systems and levels of airworthiness that allow them to routinely operate autonomously in civilian controlled airspace.

An industry source says the demonstrator resembles the Sharc UCAV concept first unveiled at the last Farnborough air show - a tailless design with the engine on the upper rear fuselage. Although the demonstrator will initially be manually controlled, it will be used to prove flight control systems (FCS) for unmanned aircraft including autonomous take-off and landings, and UAV sensors, adds the source.

Saab has experience developing the FCS and related sensors for the Gripen fighter and is developing network-centric defence systems with the Swedish armed forces, the FMV defence materiel administration and other companies.

As well as UCAVs, the company has developed proposals for a high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle equipped with Ericsson's Erieye radar, and unmanned reconnaissance air vehicles that could be launched from a Gripen to provide pre- and post-strike imagery. Saab is also working on command and control capabilities providing decision makers with an integrated picture of air, land and sea sensors (Flight International, 16-22 July).

Source: Flight International