Alenia Aeronautica's Sky-X unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator has completed its debut flight. The vehicle took off from the Vidsel test range in northern Sweden, controlled by a company test pilot and systems operator from a ground station 3.5km (2nm) from the runway.

The flight was intended to test the UCAV's major system components, flight characteristics and stability during landing. Unveiled in April 2004, the demonstrator is 6.9m (22.6ft) long, with a 5.8m wingspan, swept-back wing and "butterfly" type tail surfaces. Its modular airframe will be changed over time to test different configurations, including a tailless set-up.

The demonstrator is powered by a Microturbo TRI60-268 turbo­jet and will be used to explore mission profiles including tactical reconnaissance, suppression of enemy air defence and air-to-surface strike. The Sky-X programme will be instrumental in Alenia's contribution to the six-nation Neuron programme, which aims to fly a UCAV technology demonstrator in 2010.


Source: Flight International