Saab Aerosystems has established programme offices for the development of next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) and tactical unmanned air vehicles (TUAV), with preliminary designs pointing towards a preference for jet propulsion.

The effort will be directly linked to Sweden's planned acquisition of a MALE UAV by 2012. Saab says it wants to have a solution available from 2010 to meet the Swedish military timetable. Sweden announced earlier this year that it plans to launch a long-term MALE development programme, with Saab confirming it was engaged in talks with EADS about possible involvement in its Euromale programme, based on the Israel Aircraft Industries Heron airframe (Flight International, 23-29 March).

Saab has also launched high-level studies of potential new development MALE systems. A preliminary concept unveiled at the 8-11 June Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Paris has close parallels with the fuselage design of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator B, but incorporates a T-tail arrangement and twin over-wing jet engines. Turboprop engines are also being studied at this stage.

Saab says it is exploring development of its own MALE system as an alternative to participation in the Euromale programme, but would seek European partners if it elected to proceed with a new development effort. The company estimates it would take two years to develop a concept demonstrator if it elects to develop its own design.

The new TUAV project, meanwhile, is expected to see a prototype flying within two years to meet Sweden's requirement to replace its existing Sagem Ugglan (Sperwer) air vehicles from 2007. Saab says it intends to launch a full-scale development programme within the coming months.

The TUAV would draw heavily on Saab's experience with the SHARC unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator. Preliminary concepts point to a delta-wing arrangement, with the addition of canards to the forward fuselage. The air vehicle would be powered by a single above-fuselage jet engine.



Source: Flight International