MoD moves first on J-UCAS but is yet to reveal decision on joining Europe's Neuron

The UK Ministry of Defence is joining forces with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop concepts of operations for a future unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) programme.

The move creates a formal link to the DARPA/US Air Force/Navy's Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) programme even as six European governments – France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Greece and Switzerland – have joined the Dassault Aviation-led Neuron UCAV project.

The UK-DARPA agreement calls for locating a real-time distributed simulation centre at the US Air Force's simulation and analysis facility at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. The $100 million effort includes $40 million direct investment by the UK, plus $10 million in in-kind contributions, and data transfers from the J-UCAS programme valued at $50 million.

As well as refining the MoD's parameters for a UCAV fleet, the simulations will assess interoperability with the J-UCAS programme. No technical hardware is expected to change hands in the simulations, which may allow for an exemption from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations treaty. But DARPA says the parties will need to establish a technical assistance agreement to arrange the data transfers.


Source: Flight International