Alenia Aeronautica, Dassault Aviation and Saab on June 19 signed a letter of intent to expand cooperation in UAVs to medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drones, but said the work would have to be funded with government money. If the project goes ahead, the MALE unmanned aircraft will compete with EADS’ ambitions to develop such a UAV in Europe.“With the success of the Neuron cooperation and our overall history and proven track record of aerospace achievements, we recognize our companies as the apparent team to provide a European MALE UAV system meeting the current and future European needs,” the chief executives of Alenia Aeronautica, Dassault Aviation and Saab said in a joint statement issued at the 47th Paris Air Show.Alenia will be project leader, the statement said. The Italian company displayed at Le Bourget a mock-up of its Sky-Y operational demonstrator for a MALE drone. The aircraft is built of carbon fiber and uses diesel propulsion.The three companies already work on the technology demonstrator for a combat UAV, dubbed Neuron, and want to continue the same model of industrial cooperation in the MALE domain.A Dassault spokesman said the work would not be on company funds but would have to be financed by governments, much as Neuron is state-funded.“The study will define the preliminary characteristics, development and production of a European next-generation MALE UAV system, capable to meet the emerging European and worldwide requirements,” the statement said. “The three companies initiating this new MALE UAV system program wish to gain the support from their national authorities.”

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