Neuron, the European Unmanned Combat Aircraft (UCAV) technology demonstrator, was presented on 19 January 2012 to government officials from the six participating countries (France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Greece and Switzerland). This ceremony took place on the Istres facility of prime contractor Dassault Aviation, is south-eastern France
DGA, acting as the program’s Executive Agency representing all partners, awarded the Neuron prime contract to Dassault Aviation in February 2006. Thus, this presentation is the culmination of five years of design, development, manufacture, assembly and early static testing of the demonstrator. The engine tests began in December 2011 and will continue until the first flight in mid-2012.
Subsequently, flight tests will be carried out over two years in France, Sweden and Italy.
These tests will initially focus on opening the flight envelope of the platform, then on the aircraft’s low-observability, the firing of air-ground weapons from the internal bay, as well as demonstrating the performance of the imagery transmission process.
This demonstrator program is a triple "first" for European aviation: it is the first “stealthy” combat aircraft; it is the first UCAV developed in international cooperation, and it is the first fighter aircraft designed and developed entirely on a virtual platform.
The goal of the Neuron program is twofold:
-- to develop critical and strategic technologies for the design of future combat aircraft, whether manned or not;
-- to validate a model of innovative and efficient European cooperation, which optimizes the respective competences of industrial participants, and managed by a prime contractor with recognized and accepted know-how.
The presentation ceremony was attended by representatives of the industrial team Neuron: Saab (Sweden), Alenia Aermacchi (Italy), EADS-CASA (Spain), HAI (Greece) and RUAG (Switzerland).