PARIS - Germany's junior defense minister is calling for France and Germany to cooperate on a common UAV program rather than pursue competing projects, business daily La Tribune reported Nov. 28.
Asked in an interview on what programs France and Germany should collaborate, Stéphane Beelemans said: "Drones, for example. The projects being studied in France and Germany reflect a split from the past.
"And I say it clearly in France and Germany to our companies. I don't believe in two projects of this scale at the European level. And I find it hard to believe there is the political will to realize two competing projects. There is enough political will to do a common project," he said, according to the paper.
There was no sense in having two different kinds of equipment, for reasons of interoperability, maintenance, use and budgets, he said.
The competing projects are the next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Talarion advanced UAV, proposed by EADS to France, Germany and Spain; and the Telemos air vehicle from BAE Systems and Dassault, pitched to Britain and France.
EADS seeks a place at the top table in the Telemos project alongside BAE and Dassault, but Dassault will only consider a junior subcontractor role for the pan-European company, retaining leadership firmly in the hands of the Anglo-French team.
France, Germany and Spain paid for a 60 million euro ($79.5 million) risk-reduction study for the advanced UAV, but EADS has been unable to convert that into a development and production contract.
Work on a next-generation MALE drone is seen as vital to maintaining a design engineering capability in Europe's military aircraft sector in the absence of development for a manned jet fighter.
The Anglo-French military cooperation treaty calls for joint work on a new-generation MALE surveillance UAV, and collaboration on an unmanned combat aerial vehicle.