September 14, 2012
Credit: Credit: BAE Dassault
Paris – The potential merger of British BAE Systems with the European EADS consortium could put an end to competing medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles projects here.
BAE has been developing drone technology under the Telemos project with French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation against rival efforts under way at EADS under the Talarion project. Earlier this year U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to forge ahead with joint development of a MALE drone, part of a broader defense agreement known as the Lancaster House Treaty of 2010 which aims to boost the aerospace and defense sectors of both countries.
Since then, the new government of French President Francois Hollande has taken a fresh approach to the country’s MALE drone strategy. In September, France’s defense ministry unveiled plans to bring Germany into the mix.
In a joint declaration signed Sept. 12, the two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in various sectors of armaments, including MALE drones . In a communique issued by the French defense ministry late Sept. 12, it appears both sides have hashed out a common set of key operational needs for a possible European solution.
“Through this agreement , France and Germany are able to promote cooperation for the realization of a MALE UAV,” French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in the statement, adding that the two nations seek to deepen opportunities for European collaboration and will evaluate the possibility of operational cooperation as an intermediate step.
“France and Germany will seek to harmonize the structures and processes necessary to enable the two countries to start this project ,” he said. “France will ensure that this work is fully consistent with the commitments made between France and the United Kingdom on this subject in the context of the Lancaster House Treaty.”
As the governments sort out these details, they also still have a requirement for an interim solution. EADS has been pushing continued use of the Harphang UAV, while Dassault has been promoting the Heron-TP from Israel Aircraft Industries.