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The multi-national team producing the Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator expects to recover most of a five-to-seven-month delay in manufacturing the flying-wing vehicle, according to Philippe Koffi, program manager at France's DGA defense procurement agency. DGA leads the program, which is also funded by Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Greece. Koffi was speaking at Defence IQ's UCAV conference in London. Koffi says that the program aims to recover lost time by sticking to delivery dates for major subassemblies, which will now be completed on the final assembly station at Istres in southern France, and by adding an "early integration" phase for subsystems. The target is to make the first flight in mid-2012, only one or two months behind the original schedule.Major pieces of the sole Neuron test vehicle are now coming together, assembly should start in early 2011 and roll-out should come at mid-year. An endurance test of the modified Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca Adour engine should take place in November 2010. Options for a follow-on test program are under study, Koffi says. Although final decisions have not been taken, planners are leaning towards a two-part program: some tests would be carried out on a stealthy UCAV-type aircraft, others on a surrogate. However, he says that a new high-end, all-aspect-stealth platform would be too expensive, so planners are looking at either upgrading the Neuron vehicle or building a "mid-intensity" vehicle comparable to GA-ASI's Avenger.
ar99, ucav, neuron
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