Saab in development talks for new UAV

Published 30 August 2006

Company looking to build on pre-existing airframe designs; currently in talks with manufacturers; low observable technologies to be excluded

When selling cars, Saab’s motto is “born from jets,” suggesting a seamless evolutionary line from the Gripen fighter to the luxury Saab 9-5 sedan. Saab Aerospaces’ plans for a new tactical unmanned air vehicle (UAV) for the Swedish military follows a similar plan. Instead of building a new aircraft from the ground up, the company is in talks with a number of unnamed manufacturers to build on their design. “We want a partner that has a good airframe,” says program director Mikael Franzen. This development approach is similar to that used in Saab’s development of the Skeldar V150 vertical take-off and landing system, when Saab acquired the rights from CybAero to develop a derivative of APID 55 VTOL.

Once the company has a good airframe in place, it plans to incorporate its own FILUR and SHARC subscale unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator programs into the new tactical system. One key point: the company will be excluding low observable (LO) technologies. “We don’t see LO as an element of tactical design for the near future,” says Franzen.

The company will likely choose its manufacturing partner by the end of 2006. Sweden hopes to employ the new UAV as part of its contribution to the European rapid reaction force’s Nordic Battle Group 11.

-read more in Peter La Franchi’s Flightglobal report ; Saab company Web site