The UK-based defence company BAE Systems has secured a contract to plan and demonstrate technology to support future use of unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones.
In partnership with French firm Dassault Aviation, the Governments of France and the UK have created a programme for future combat air systems, which will demonstrate technology that can be used in future conflict.
The 18 month study contract is split on a 50/50 basis and is worth €11m euros to the two companies.
The contract will propose a joint plan to mature and demonstrate critical technology and operational aspects of a future combat air system. It is expected that this will lead to a joint Unmanned Combat Air System demonstration and operational evaluation programme in the future.
The two companies have forged a closer relationship after their governments stated desire for closer bi-lateral defence relationships.
The two companies recently started to work closely to mature and develop further their common understanding of technology, capability and business opportunities in the Unmanned Air System (UAS) arena.
It is the first contract for an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the aircraft, control system, datalink and support equipment, to come out of the Defence Accord signed at the Anglo-French Summit in November 2010.
The two governments have stated their intention to investigate the potential for common UAS development programmes in the future.
Chris Boardman, managing director for military air and information at BAE Systems said: “The signing of this contract positions the two companies well to meet any future Anglo-French requirements.”
BAE Systems, Dassault Aviation and Rolls Royce/Snecma have signed an industrial agreement to work together in support of this contract.
BAE Systems is also part of ASTRAEA, a UK industry-led consortium focusing on advancing the use of unmanned aircraft in the UK. It hopes to have a firm set of regulations in place so that UAVs can be operated in Britain by 2020.