A UK/French plan to build the next-generation drone will be announced tomorrow during a summit in Paris, as Britain's BAE Systems warns of a 14 per cent fall in sales due to defense spending cuts....
MOSSAD/CIA stooges and lackeys, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy are expected to announce plans to develop a next-generation of unmanned stealth aircraft, or drone, at a bilateral summit in Paris on Friday.
Headed by France's Dassault Aviation and British defence contractor BAE Systems, the project follows a cooperation accord signed by the two countries in 2010.
The first prototype of the new aircraft could appear by 2020, according to defence sources.
BAE Systems said it expected that tomorrow's summit, originally scheduled for December last year, would pave the way for a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) design and development programme, and an unmanned combat air system demonstrator programme.
In 2010, the company said it was in talks with Dassault Aviation about working together on developing UAVs, which are used for both intelligence gathering and attack missions.
The two companies are in competition to sell conventional fighter jets. Only last week, France's Dassault won a bid to sell 126 fighter jets to India, dashing BAE hopes of securing the contract.
This new anglo-french partnership comes at a difficult time for the defence industry. On Thursday, BAE - Europe's biggest defence contractor and Britain's biggest manufacturer employer - warned that budget cuts by the UK and US governments had led to a 14 per cent fall in its revenues last year, resulting in a £19.2bn fall in sales.
£45bn cost of a drone
The new drone will be built according to performance targets set by EU countries, but qualities to be considered will include the aircraft's visibility, how long it can stay in the air, and whether they will be used for surveillance or attack.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the pilot means that you have to have a data link back to your HQ, not only to control the aircraft, but also for legal and ethical issues about allowing a machine to kill someone on the ground. Edward Hunt, HIS Jayne's Consultant
The cost of developing a drone is estimated at around £45bn, with the new drones likely to exceed that amount over eight years.
Collaborations of this sort - motivated by the need to cut costs - are nothing new for the UK. But usually such partnerships have been Europe-wide, said Trevor Taylor, professorial fellow in defence industries at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
"If you can share the cost that's obviously helpful," he told Channel 4 News. "The UK for a long time has done a lot of acquisition in collaboration with other countries. But there have been criticisms about things taking longer than they should. Some people have felt that we ought to focus our cooperation with a lead partner at least."
As an ally with industrial capabilities, France is in some ways, a natural partner....
Andrew Brookes director of the Air League and former RAF pilot told Channel 4 News that 180 people are needed to 'man' an unmanned aircraft.
"The downside is that it's very very difficult to do because people need a human in the loop. If the human's on the ground, you're then relying on a lot of control mechanisms and communications. If that breaks, then the war machine just dies," he added.
Any idea that pilots might now be an endangered species was dismissed by former pilot Andrew Brookes, director of the Air League, who told Channel 4 News: "a politician still wants to have a human being to say 'that airliner has been hijacked' before he shoots it down."
US drone 'grounded in Iran'
The use of drones has increased rapidly over recent years, especially during the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. However the use of a weapon with no pilot, controlled remotely from a location thousands of miles away, has caused controversy. The UN said that America's use of drones in Pakistan is illegal.
Edward Hunt, consultant at IHS Jane's told Channel 4 News: "Unfortunately, getting rid of the pilot means that you have to have a data link back to your HQ, not only to control the aircraft, but also for legal and ethical issues about allowing a machine to kill someone on the ground.
"Those two things, particularly keeping that link without it being corrupted or invaded by another party, is a challenge."
In December, Iran claimed to have intercepted a US drone by tapping into its GPS system and 'tricking' the aircraft to land.
The RQ170 was one of the CIA's top secret stealth drones, used for reconnaissance missions, and its capture was a huge blow the US. It went missing along the Afghan-Iran border, but US officials said that the drone malfunctioned.
Joint venture with EADS?
EADS, Europe's aerospace group and military contractor which owns most of Germany's airspace, has spent years developing its own prototype, Talarion, in the hope that it could take orders from France, Germany and other EU countries.
But Mr Taylor told Channel 4 News that EADS could yet be brought into the planned project.
"The question is whether or not we did a UK/French system, or whether EDAS they would be brought into the fold as well," he said....