Saab is warning the Swedish government that delays in committing the country to the Dassault-led Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) project could threaten the long-term health of the company’s aerospace business.

The manufacturer saw its net profit for the first half of 2004 fall by a quarter compared with the same period last year, to SKr386 million ($50 million), including an extraordinary charge relating to delays in developing the tactical mission system for Sweden’s NH Industries NH90 transport helicopters (Flight International, 12-18 July).

Saab chief executive Ave Svensson is pressing Sweden’s defence ministry to decide on Neuron participation. “We are concerned that the decision on the Neuron project participation has yet to be made,” says Svensson.

Dassault expected to receive firm commitments at June’s Paris air show from all governments involved in the project, in which Swedish involvement is second only to the French.

However, the Swedish administration has faced domestic criticism in parliament over funding for the UCAV and postponed a decision on the project (Flight International, 21-28 June). The Stockholm assembly is expected to approve the spending before it breaks for its summer recess at the end of the month and Saab is stressing the link between the technologies developed for the Gripen and the mission requirements of Neuron. “[Neuron] represents an important opportunity for Saab, by taking a leading role in such a future-oriented research project to ensure that it retains its aeronautics competence,” says Svensson.

Saab is projecting revenue growth of 8% over the entire year, of which two-thirds is organic, says Svensson.

Source: Flight International