The nEUROn programme was launched in 2003.
The main contract was notified to the prime contractor in 2006, the industrial partnership contracts were signed concurrently.
The first flight of the technological demonstrator was completed on December 1, 2012, in Istres (France).
The scenarios to be validated through the demonstration flights will be as follows:
insertion in the test range airspace,
air-to-ground subsonic mission,
detection, localisation, and autonomous reconnaissance of ground targets without being detected (“to see without being seen”),
air-to-surface weapon release from an internal bay.
At the end of 2012, the status of the nEUROn programme is the following:
a)The different parts of the airframe have been manufactured and are delivered to Dassault Aviation in Istres facilities (France):
- the main fuselage by SAAB,
- the rear fuselage and the exhaust nozzle by HAI,
- the wings by EADS-CASA,
- the bay doors by Alenia,
- the weapon interface by RUAG,
- the structural parts contributing to the low observability by Dassault Aviation factories of Argenteuil and Biarritz.
b)The final assembly and the final layout of the piping, electrical wiring and equipment installation, including the engine and the landing gear, were completed in the Dassault Aviation facilities.
c)The software integration in the various electronic equipments was completed, using the “global integration tests rig” in Istres.
d)The ground tests (hydraulics, electrical, fuel...), soon to be followed by comprehensive engine tests, took place throughout 2012 with a first flight at the end of 2012.
e)The maiden flight was completed on December 1, 2012. This first sortie proceeded exactly as expected. It lasted twenty five minutes and validated the vehicle’s main flight parameters. Take-off was entirely automatic and the aircraft reached an altitude of about 2000 meters, before turning round, completing the approach and then landing.