For the coming twenty years, the European combat aircraft industry will face three main challenges:
- the need to develop strategic technologies,
- the necessity to uphold skills of excellences in areas in which the European industry has gained technical competences and fields of excellence,
- the goal to provide workload to the European design offices.
Facing such a situation, the French government took the initiative by launching in 2003 a project for a technological demonstrator of an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), elaborated in the frame of a European cooperation scheme.
The aim of the nEUROn demonstrator is to provide the European design offices with a project allowing them to develop know-how and to maintain their technological capabilities in the coming years.
This project has gone far beyond the theoretical studies that had been conducted until then, with the assembly and the successful flight demonstration of an unmanned combat aircraft.
It is also a way to implement an innovative process in terms of management and organisation of a European cooperative programme.
To be fully effective, a single point of decision, the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA – Délégation Générale pour l’Armement), and a single point of implementation, Dassault Aviation company as prime contractor, were settled to manage the nEUROn programme.
The Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Greek and Swiss governments acting together with their related industrial teams, Alenia, SAAB, EADS-CASA, Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and RUAG, have joined the French initiative.