Saab has unveiled a previously-secret unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) concept, the Sharc, which made its first flight earlier this year.

The Swedish company is reluctant to disclose when and where the first flight took place, but it is understood to have been towards the beginning of this year and in the USA.

Initial flight tests investigated the air vehicle's handling qualities and performance. Trials expected to take place later this year will begin to test the UCAV operating autonomously.

The next flight test campaign will probably take place in Sweden.


Four UCAVs have been built. They are powered by 45lb-thrust (0.2kN) AMT Olympus turbofan, have a 2m (6.6ft) span, are 2.5m long and weigh 50kg (110lb). The Sharc flies at 160kt (300km/h).

The company has built the air vehicle to Swedish military certification standards but intends to develop UAVs/UCAVs able to operate autonomously in civil airspace, says Lennart Sindahl, Saab Aerospace vice-president and general manager future projects.

Technology proved in the Sharc programme will likely be used in a range of Saab unmanned air vehicle programmes.

Ake Svensson, Saab Aerospace general manager, says the company's technology will potentially be used in unmanned systems of "different sizes and shapes".

Source: Flight Daily News