EU inks UAV agreement with consortium

The European Union's joint defense ministry has signed an agreement with a consortium of European defense contractors to develop a strategy for integrating unmanned aerial vehicles into European airspace by 2015.

The European Defence Agency announced Jan. 8 that the detailed road map for UAVs will be developed by the Air4All consortium.

The Air4All consortium consists of BAE Systems, Alenia Aeronautica, Dassault Aviation, Diehl BGT Defence, EADS CASA, EADS Defence and Security Germany, Galileo Avionica, QinetiQ, Rheinmetall Defence Electronics, SAAB AB, Sagem Defence Systems and Thales Aerospace.

The project is intended to facilitate interaction among all UAV stakeholders, including airworthiness authorities, air traffic management bodies, procurement agencies and industry and research institutes. The agenda will include commercial and military uses of UAVs.

"UAVs have been in the agency's work program since the start in 2005. But 2008 will be a milestone year. Why? Because we hope to realize a breakthrough in a topic that nobody so far has tackled in an all-inclusive way, namely the insertion of UAVs into regulated air space," Alexander Weis, chief executive of the defense agency, said in a speech Jan. 10.

One of the capabilities that will need to be expanded for the UAVs is "sense and avoid" technology to ensure that UAVs do not strike other objects, Weis said. The agency plans to spend $8.9 million in 2008 on the UAV project, he said.

"This is a key initiative for Europe that provides a nucleus for setting realistic goals that will lead to unmanned aircraft systems operating in total harmony with other airspace users," Dave Kershaw, project director, said in a news release.

The European Defence Agency was established as part of the European Union in 2004. Its goals are to develop defense capabilities and a European military industrial base.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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