Σάββατο, 21 Ιανουαρίου 2012

The nEUROn program




Neuron is the European unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator for the development, integration and validation of UCAV technologies and is not for military operational deployment. Dassault unveiled a life-size model of Neuron at the 2005 Paris Air Show. The operational UCAV is expected to be a larger design than the Neuron demonstrator. The aircraft performs an air-to-ground mission in a network centric warfare.




The main aim of the Neuron programme is to sustain and develop European manufacturers' aeronautic and other technologies for next-generation combat aircraft and UAVs.
By mid 2005, a series of memorandums of understanding had been signed and industrial teaming arrangements been set up. By the end of 2005, the governments of France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland had agreed to invest in the Neuron programme.
In February 2006, the Neuron programme was formally launched with the award, by the French DGA on behalf of the participating nations, of a contract to Dassault as prime contractor for the design and development of the Neuron demonstrator.
This began a 15-month feasibility phase. The DGA awarded a contract for a 19-month project definition phase in June 2007. This will be followed by the production of a Neuron demonstrator. Dassault will carry out ground tests and first engine run up in 2011. First flight of the Neuron is scheduled for 2012. Flight tests will begin in France followed by tests in Sweden and then Italy.


The UCAV will be able to launch precision-guided munitions from an internal weapons bay and will have a stealth airframe with reduced radar and infrared cross-sections.
Neuron programme
Dassault Aviation is the design authority with responsibility for the general design, system architecture, the flight control system and final assembly together with ground tests and flight tests. Dassault's UAV and UCAV design capability was developed under a sequence of experimental development and validation programmes, Aeronef validation experimental (AVE). Dassault started the AVE LogiDuc programme (AVE logistics to demonstrate UCAV) in 1999.
Saab Aerosystems, based in Linkoping, Sweden, is responsible for overall design, fuselage, avionics, fuel system, flight control, airworthiness, autonomy, multipayload capabilities, structural design and manufacture and ground and flight testing.
"The Neuron UCAV will incorporate highly advanced avionics, stealth and network-centric technologies."
Dassault Aviation received the front and central fuselage section of the Neuron UCAV demonstrator from Saab on 25 January 2011. Saab has built strong capability in UAV and UCAV technology with the SHARC Swedish highly advanced research configuration demonstrator, FILUR flying innovative low-observable unmanned research UAV, the EuroMALE European medium-altitude long-endurance UAV with EADS and the establishment of the Link Lab drone development centres, a joint venture with Linkoping University.
Technology development on the Neuron programme would be applicable to planned upgrades of the Saab Gripen fighter aircraft, which is expected to remain in service until about 2035.
In March 2004, the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and Dassault signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Dassault UCAV programme, which became the Neuron programme. Under the terms of the MoU, HAI is responsible for the engine exhaust, the rear fuselage section and the test rig. The rear fuselage section was delivered to Dassault Aviation in January 2011.
EADS CASA of Spain is responsible for the wings and also the ground station and integration of the data link. EADS CASA and Dassault signed the MoU agreement in May 2005. EADS CASA delivered the wings of the Neuron to Dassault in March 2011. The wings were shipped to Istres for final assembly.
Ruag in Switzerland is responsible for the weapons interface and wind tunnel testing.
Alenia Aeronautica in Italy is responsible for the development of the electrical power system, the air data system, development of the Smart Weapon Bay, and for flight testing. It delivered the weapon bay doors and mechanism of the Neuron demonstrator to Dassault Aviation in May 2011.
During 2005, Turkey formally applied to take part in the EADS MALE medium-altitude long-endurance UAV programme and the Dassault-led Neuron programme.
An attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) will be supplied by the LITEF, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman to the Neuron UCAV. The LCR-100 Gyrocompass AHRS is a north-finding attitude and heading reference system based on a fibre-optic gyro and micro-electromechanical (MEMS) accelerometers.
Design and appearance
The Neuron is of similar appearance to the AVE-C which is the second prototype of the Dassault Petit Duc and which has high-manoeuvrability unstable yaw aircraft control. Like the Ave-C, the Neuron has no tail fin and a swept W-shaped wing design
The system will incorporate highly advanced avionics, stealth and network-centric technologies. Simulations and flight tests will demonstrate the capability of flight in controlled airspaces and the operation of the Neuron in a network-centric battlefield environment.
The air vehicle fuselage length and the wingspan are approximately 10m. The empty weight of the air vehicle is around 4,500kg and with a full payload the weight will be about 6,000kg. The air vehicle has tricycle-type landing gear for runway take-off and landing.
Neuron will have the capability to carry two laser guided 250kg (550lb) bombs in two weapon bays. The air vehicle is expected to have an endurance of several hours and high subsonic speed i.e. a maximum speed of Mach 0.7 to Mach 0.8.
"The UCAV will be able to launch precision-guided munitions from an internal weapons bay."
The unmanned Neuron will be controlled from ground-based stations and from control stations in combat aircraft such as the French Rafale or the Swedish Gripen.
In June 2005, Thales was selected to develop the datalink system for Neuron. The system will connect the ground control station with the UCAV by a high-rate Nato standard STANAG 7085 datalink and a low-rate datalink: The high-rate datalink will allow secure transmission of application data (video, imagery and radar) and air vehicle command and control data. The low-rate datalink will use secure technologies and a different frequency band to ensure data integrity.
Neuron engines
The air vehicle will be powered by two Adour mk951 jet engines from the Rolls Royce and Turbomeca joint venture RRTM. The Adour mk951 is already fitted on BAE Systems Hawk 128 aircraft. The air intake is in a flush dorsal position above the nose.
The engine features a new fan and combustor and is also equipped with full authority digital engine control (FADEC) which reduces the workload of the pilot by performing automated operations.
Performance
The maximum speed of the aircraft varies between Mach 0.7 and 0.8. Neuron weighs around 4,500kg and its maximum take-off weight 6,000kg.

Programme Milestones
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 is planned for mid-2012, in Istres (France).
Demonstrations flights
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.
Programme status
By mid-year 2011, 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 gears, are under final stages in the Dassault Aviation facilities, in Istres.
c) The software integration in the various electronic equipments is in progress on the “global integration tests rig” in Istres.
Programme organisation
The programme of the nEUROn technological demonstrator is organised as follows:
· a single executive agency, the French DGA which awarded a main contract to the prime contractor and manages the project,
· a single prime contractor, Dassault Aviation company, which is in charge of the main contract implementation.
Ever since the beginning of the programme, the French authorities have clearly stated their will that the UCAV technological demonstrator project should contribute to the build-up of a European defence identity by fully opening it to cooperation. As such, about half of the tasks are entrusted to non-French industrial partners.
In terms of management, this organisation guarantees the best efficiency in a full partnership approach and cooperative relations between the various actors, as well as an improved budgetary control.
An efficient european cooperation scheme
In accordance with the guidelines defined by the French DGA, Dassault Aviation has entrusted about 50% of the work value to European partners, elected after a scrutinized evaluation based on:
· experience and excellence:
The objective of this project is not to create new technological capabilities everywhere in Europe, but to take the full benefit of the already existing technological niches.
· competitiveness:
This project has the ambition to find new ways for costs reduction. Each partner, in addition to their technical excellences, is invited to apply for the most efficient "value for money".
· state budget allocation:
It is a condition imposed by the French DGA that each country having the ambition to participate to the nEUROn programme shall contribute to its financing. For more flexibility, no constraint in term of "geographical return" is assigned to this project, as already dealt with at governmental level.
The industrial team of the nEUROn programme is composed of:
· Dassault Aviation (France), in addition to being the design authority, takes care of the general design and architecture of the system, the flight control system, the implementation of low observable devices, the final assembly, the systems integration on the “global integration tests rig”, the ground tests, and the flight tests,
· Alenia (Italy) contributes to the project with a new concept of internal weapon bay (“Smart Integrated Weapon Bay” - SIWB), an internal EO/IR sensor, the bay doors and their operating mechanisms, the electrical power and distribution system, and the air data system,
· SAAB (Sweden), is entrusted with the general design of the main fuselage, the landing gear doors, the avionics and the fuel system,
· EADS-CASA (Spain) brings its experience for the wings, the ground station, and the data link integration,
· Hellenic Aerospace Industry - HAI (Greece) is responsible for the rear fuselage, the exhaust pipe, and the supply of racks of the “global integration tests rig”,
· RUAG (Switzerland) is taking care of the low speed wind tunnel tests, and the weapon interfaces between the aircraft and the armaments.
Innovative industrial solutions
The nEUROn is the first large size stealth platform designed in Europe.
Building on the experience gained from recent projects, for the first time in a military project, the nEUROn is designed and developed within the frame of a completely integrated “Product Lifecycle Management” (PLM) environment, through a “virtual plateau”, allowing Dassault Aviation and its partners, located in the different countries, to simultaneously work together on the same design data base, independently from the location where the design activities are currently performed.
All the teams involved from the very beginning of the programme know them each other very well, thanks to the development tasks jointly performed in the design office implemented inside the Dassault Aviation facilities of St-Could, as well as with the daily use of distant collaborative tools provided with the “virtual plateau”.
Today, the same teams still work together close to the aircraft, or on the “global integration tests rig”.
This specific and innovative organisation allows to achieve a perfect tempo to rapidly solve any technical events occurring during the development phase of the programme.
These advantages, associated to a highly flexible, pro-active and incentive management process, efficiently contribute to focus towards the next major milestone: the first flight of the nEUROn demonstrator.

http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/neuron/
http://www.dassault-aviation.com/en/defense/neuron/introduction.html?L=1

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