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Summary of European low observable/stealthy UAV/UCAV Programs

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posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 08:25 AM
I’ve thrown together this directory of all the European UCAV related air vehicles to fly. If I’ve missed any, please add.

Although many spectators seem fixated with the US’ J-UCAS and weaponized Predator programs (though somewhat ignorant of the US’ Excalibur program), European manufacturers are catching up very fast having demonstrated their ability to produce low observable technology.

Many of the programs are inter-related, particularly with Dassault’s Neuron program, but for the sake of simplicity I think we should deal with them as airframes. Hence:
1. BAE Systems Corex (“Raven”), UK
2. BAE Systems
3. EADS Barracuda, Germany (/Europe)
4. Saab SHARC, Sweden
5. Saab FILUR, Sweden
6. Dassault “Little Duke”, France
7. Alenia Sky-X, Italy

1. BAE System Corex (Latin for Raven), UK
First flown: 2004(?)
Role: Technology Demonstrator for low observables technology.
Description: An apparently large flying wing UAV resembling the defunct Darkstar program in layout. The fuselage has a generic stealthy appearance with air intake for the single (small) turbofan above the nose. The wings are long and less stealthy appearing with bulky control surface actuators. The wing form is typical of high altitude, low speed long endurance platforms leading to speculation that the design is most likely related to a Global Hawk type role. However, the project is also consistently associated with UCAV applications –which leads to several possibilities:
a) A medium or high altitude long endurance platform fulfilling a similar role to weaponized Predator in which case internally carried Brimstone missiles would be a likely choice.
b) A medium or high altitude stand-off bomber carrying Storm Shadow cruise missiles or other PGMs.
c) A more J-UCAS like interdictor platform to replace the Tornado in which case a completely different wing plan would be required.

2. BAE Systems Eclipse, UK
First flown: 2000(?)
Role: Experimental
Description: A small experimental aircraft designed in collaboration with Cranfield University. Although it is in the scale of a hobbiest’s remote controlled plane it featured several key low-observable technologies including a “flapless” configuration. This project is often overlooked by observers. The project is continuing under the banner FLAVIIR.

3. EADS Barracuda, Germany (/Spain/Europe)
First flown: 2006(?)
Role: Technology demonstrator
Description: A simple low-observable layout with blended lines which appear to be optimized for forward angle stealth. The wing plan seems in keeping with an interdictor role –perhaps a replacement for the Tornado IDS and F-18. The fixed inlet without splitter appears to point towards subsonic flight characteristics. The airframe does not appear to have a weapons bay but any production design presumably would.

4. Saab SHARC, Sweden
First Flown: 2002
Role: Experimental(?)
Description: A small UAV which appears to have inherently stealthy configuration which would not be a natural layout if stealth was not a priority. This air vehicle appears to have been superceded by the FILUR program (see below). Note that the tail fins are of essentially similar design to those of the EADS Barracuda and Alenia Sky-X. Other common themes running through the European UCAV programs are the above fuselage air intake position which is inherently more stealthy than more conventional positioning.

5. Saab FILUR, Sweden
First flown: 2005
Role: technology demonstrator
Description: An advanced aerodynamic configuration reminiscent of the J-UCAS designs, the air vehicle is thought to be part of Sweden’s contribution to the Neuron program. In a retrograde step compared to the SHARC, the FILUR demonstrator appears to have fixed landing gear –reminding us that it is merely a demonstrator. It also features unusual inward canted tail fins, whereas the Neuron is expected to be tailless.

6. Dassault Petit Duc (“Little Duke”), France
First flown: 2000
Role: Technology demonstrator
Description: Probably the first European stealth aircraft to fly (at least publicly), the Little Duke is a small twin jet powered design which has led to the Dassault Neuron program which is now pan-European.

7. Alenia Sky-X, Italy
First flown: 2005
Role: Technology demonstrator
Description: another program linked to the Neuron project, the Sky-X demonstrator is quite large with an overall size similar to the EADS Barracuda and more typical of a military trainer. It appears to feature an internal weapons bay although the payload is quoted at just 200kg. The aerodynamic configuration resembles the Boeing X-32 JSF in that it has sloping sides and high set wing. But the air intake, which in itself does not appear stealthy, is mounted on top of the airframe.

[edit on 13-2-2006 by planeman]

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 02:41 PM
Just two notes. Alenia Sky-X is not a production aircraft. It is demonstrator for a much bigger UCAV plane in shape something like FILUR.

The empty place between small Petit Duc and big Grand Duc (transformed to Neuron) was filled by middle size Moyen Duc (SlowFast) tactical UAV.

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 02:55 PM
Matej, re the Moyan Duc, I remember it being much talked about but then dissapeared into obscurity. The only pictures I recall were basially similar to the Petit Duc. I was under the impression it never flew - did it?

PS. I can't see the pictures you uploaded.

[edit on 13-2-2006 by planeman]

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 03:36 PM
More proof UAVs are the future of Air combat. Countries all over the world are investing money into such projects nobody wants to be left out. I know Israel, Canada and Russia are also during work with UAVs and would assume others like China are doing the same though I havent seen any of their designs yet.

I dont know if your list is only for "stealthy" UAVs or not but the French Sperwer might be a good addition to the list since its already in service with a good deal of European militaries aswell as Canada.

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 03:45 PM
Hi new here, great forum!

The Moyen Duc didn’t fly, it was supposed to do so in late 2004 but nothing ever came of it as far as I know. Probably due to Neuron disrupting Dassault’s Logiduc plans or the Armée de Terre’s MCMM project being cancelled in 2004.

A second version of the Petit Duc (AVE-C) did fly in June 2004 which was a 2m wingspan, tailless aircraft designed to demonstrate unstable yaw control.

A few things on your post, I wouldn’t call the Corax large, I mean the wingspan is generally thought to be around 6m, 10m at the most but the fuselage is fairly comparable to the Petit Duc and FILUR sized vehicles. Then again until a better picture is released I don’t think anyone in the public will know.

On the Eclipse; the original vehicle was built by some BAE employees as part of an MSc in Aircraft Engineering Group Design Project. This particular aircraft did use conventional control surfaces and has not, as of yet flown with any flapless control system. It was pictured on the BAE website with an article about how the company flew the worlds first flapless air vehicle but the Eclipse was not the vehicle that conducted the flights. That was done with a modified electric ducted fan powered model aircraft (can’t remember the exact make), this was of course done under the FLAVIIR project as you say. The significance of Eclipse comes, however, from the fact that the vehicle’s design will form the basis of the final FLAVIIR demonstrator which will fly in 2009 IIRC. A third FLAVIIR demonstrate was to have flown in November last year which was to be the first demonstrator to be designed and built solely by the FLAVIIR team and to incorporate the technology demonstrated on the previous two demonstrators. I’m not sure whether these tests were conducted, they probably were though. This aircraft had an X-45A planform but was powered by two ducted fans.

As far as I know the Sky-X does not have a functioning internal weapons bay; the airframe I believe is based on a munitions dispenser pod which might explain the look of a weapons bay. In regards to what Matej was saying, I’ve also heard that Alenia wanted to take the Sky-X forward to produce a low cost UCAV for potential export markets but from what I heard the final vehicle would look pretty much the same as the Sky-X. I’m not sure how those plans have progressed though.


posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 03:55 PM
Its a shame.

It seems that the EU is (unfortunatly) doing the same as the US...They design every UAS for a specific role...which its unnecisary. THey could save millions if they didn't make so many UAS' and design one with multi-role in mind.

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 04:17 PM
Mike, cheers for the info. I was wondering about the flapless details given the clear control surfaces on the Eclipse's trailing edges. The news article you may mean is this one:
You can see why I got confused....

Thanks for the other info too.

EDIT: Just been looking more at the flapless concept, it involves a hot/cold (bleed?) air-mix thrust vectoring system which actually exhausts out the trailing edge of the wing and has up/down vectoring. Looks heavy and could steal thrust? Or am I being daft?

[edit on 13-2-2006 by planeman]

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 04:42 PM
Yep that's the one.

As for how it works, I haven't looked at it in detail for a while and to be honest judging by your posts you probably know more than me on the technical side of it, the politics of the industry is more my area. I assume you know the FLAVIIR website (, if you have a look at the "FLAVIIR posters" section that should give you a better understanding of how it works.

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 10:36 PM
niceone!! -

cheers for that waynos man, i'm keeping a close eye out on corax
- hope it turns out to be something interesting!! it would be quite *rubarb* if it just ends up a spy plane

[edit on 13-2-2006 by st3ve_o]

posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 03:32 AM
Some UAV's worth mentioning too:


"In 2004 Saab initiated development of a Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV). The TUAV will be an affordable and cost-effective combat and reconnaissance aircraft certified for controlled airspaces. The TUAV can be used for short-range surveillance, electronic warfare or combat missions, and for linking communications, traffic surveillance or other public services." -from SAAB's site


Link to info on the systems above

posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 03:41 AM
With US r and D budgets shrinking quicker than a mans raisinny bits when he jumps in a cold lake it's not surprising that others are taking up the mantle and running with it. And minus the quote unquote fighter/manned aviation mafia in general running teh show it's no surprise that the europeans are forging rapidly ahead of us.

edit/p.s: the euro boys are turning out as usual visually stunning and amazing aircraft. keep it up dudes I'd love to see the best you can build.

[edit on 14-2-2006 by Sugarlump]

posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 03:59 AM
Good compilation guys

Russia and Israel are coming up with a series of stealthy UAV's as well

posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 06:12 AM
Excellent thread
There is very little information about the european UAV programs available, and hardly ever come in the news.

Here's an article about the Barrakuda I just found:

Barrakuda UAV technology advances

Images of the EADS Barrakuda stealth unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) demonstrator indicate that the company's work on stealth may have outpaced that of BAE Systems, Saab and Dassault. Barrakuda is a much larger, heavier and more sophisticated aircraft than the very small test vehicles that other European companies have unveiled to date.

And yesterday:

France signs delayed deal for Neuron UCAV demonstrator

Dassault has at last signed a deal to co-ordinate a six-nation programme to design, build and fly an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator, with France's DGA procurement agency last week awarding the company a contract worth €405 million ($486 million).

My website

Very interesting developments!

posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 04:32 PM
Pics fixed. I forgot write at the end of files .jpg :-))))

posted on Feb, 23 2006 @ 12:06 PM

It is now confirmed that the straight-wing COREX is a demonstrator for HALE recce technology (akin to the Global Hawk) and it is suggested that it may carry conformal AESAs in future (presumably as load-bearing wing structures like on the US "Sensorcraft" concept).

There is however a swept wing variation using the same fuselage which demonstrates UCAV technologies and looks even more stealthy:

This is arguably the most advanced European UAV to fly yet.

posted on Feb, 23 2006 @ 12:27 PM
There's also a RPV called Kestrel which was flown early 2003 in the UK, this was a semi-autonomous blended wing body aircraft. I have a feeling a fourth aircraft has also been tested in 2001 to 2002.

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