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France Signs Patroller UAV Contract

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Defence Minister Launches the French Army’s Future Tactical UAV

(Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued April 5, 2016)

(Issued in French only; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)


Multi-sensor payloads, long endurance and the ability to fly in national airspace (with an on-board pilot) are the main reasons for which France selected the Sagem Patroller optionally-piloted aircraft to meet the French army’s MALE UAV requirements. (Sagem photo)


PARIS --- On the occasion of his visit to Sagem’s Montlucon production facility, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence, attended the official award of the production contract for the French Army’s tactical UAV system (Système de Drones Tactiques) by the Deputy Director General of Armaments and the CEO of Safran.

This contract includes the delivery of two operational systems for the French Army, each composed of five Patroller 2 air vehicles, two ground stations for monitoring and control of the UAVs, and communications.

It also includes the acquisition of a system comprising four air vehicles and two ground stations for training in France, and the acquisition of the support system. Finally, it also covers the operational maintenance for a period of 12 years.

These new systems will ultimately replace interim tactical UAV systems (Systèmes de Drones Tactiques Interimaires, SDTI), in operation since 2004 with the 61st Artillery Regiment stationed in Chaumont.

The SDT program meets the operational needs of the Army by providing enhanced performance in terms of endurance, quality of images produced and logistics footprint, as well as more effective research capacity obtained by a multi-sensor approach.


Integrated into the digital battlefield, the Patroller is a real-time surveillance and intelligence drone system able to carry a multi-sensor intelligence payload exceeding 250 kg, installed in the airframe or in pods (optronics, radar and signals intelligence). It offers 20 hours of endurance and has an operating ceiling of 20,000 ft. (Sagem video)

The SDT will be able to simultaneously carry two payloads (initially, optical / infrared / laser and radar; an electronic warfare payload will be ultimately able to replace the radar).

To implement the program, Safran will be supported by the “Patroller Cluster,” a grouping of mainly French high technology SMEs, which will bring decisive technological building blocks for the airframe performance and mission chain.

The aircraft is a partnership with the German company Ecarys (Stemme), a renowned manufacturer in the field of motor-gliders and light aircraft.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: While France had agreed to evaluate the Watchkeeper UAV produced for the British Army by Thales UK in cooperation with Israel’s Elbit, French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian decided in 2014 to hold a competitive fly-off between the Watchkeeper and the competing Patroller medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV developed as a private venture by France’s Sagem.
Carried out by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) and the French Army, the fly-off took place during the first half of 2015.
Speaking at the April 5 contract signature in Montluçon, the city in central France where Sagem builds its UAVs, Le Drian said Patroller had been preferred “without a doubt” because of the quality of its electro-optical sensors, its long endurance and its ability to fly in national airspace.
Specifically, its capability of carrying two distinct payloads (thermal imaging and radar, for example) at the same time was seen as a major advantage.
Furthermore, as an optionally-piloted aircraft, Patroller can self-deploy to its operational theater, and once there operate as an unmanned aircraft.
In addition, Le Drian said, Patroller is 85% made in France, and its production for the French army will create 300 new jobs.
The contract is worth about 300 million euros, Reuters reported from Montluçon.)


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Patroller: The French Army’s New Tactical Drone

(Source: Sagem; issued April 5, 2016)

MONTLUÇON, France --- During a visit to the Sagem (Safran) plant in Montluçon today (Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region), French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian witnessed the official announcement of the French army’s new “tactical drone system” (SDT) program contract.

Vincent Imbert, Deputy director of the French Defence procurement agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement), handed the SDT contract to Philippe Petitcolin, Chief Executive Officer of Safran, and Ross McInnes, Chairman of the Safran Board of Directors.

The program is under the contracting authority of the DGA and is based on the Patroller drone system, for which Sagem is prime contractor.

The Patroller drone won a hard-fought competition for this contract. In 2018 the Patroller will take over from the Sperwer tactical drone now deployed by the French army’s 61st Artillery Regiment, part of the Intelligence Brigade.

The military spending bill for 2014-2019 provides for the delivery of 14 aircraft.

Integrated in the digital battlefield, the Patroller is a real-time surveillance and intelligence drone system. It is deployed by command units to support land operations, help protect front-line units and provide intelligence information. Its modular design enables it to carry a multisensory intelligence payload exceeding 250 kg, installed in the airframe, or in pods (optronics, radar and signals intelligence).

It offers 20 hours of endurance and has an operating ceiling of 20,000 ft.

During official tests at the Istres air force base in July 2015, the Patroller demonstrated the performance of its new-generation optronics (electro-optical) system, providing long-range observation, and simultaneous and real-time operation of several sensors (optical and radar imaging). These tests spotlighted its deployment capability, small logistics footprint, scalability and ease of operation.

Sagem is prime contractor for the French tactical drone system program, leading the Patroller Cluster, a consortium of more than 25 French high-tech companies. The French Minister of Defense’s selection of the Patroller drone will create about 300 qualified jobs in France, and also bolster Sagem’s partnership with the German company Ecarys, which supplies the ES-15 airframe for the Patroller system.

Safran Chief Executive Officer Philippe Petitcolin congratulated the company for this success, stating: “Building on Sagem’s 25 years of experience in making tactical drones, the selection of the Patroller confirms French industry’s leading position in the European surveillance drone market. Our teams are ready to meet this challenge, and they will be worthy of the trust placed in us by the country.”

Martin Sion, Chief Executive Officer of Sagem, added: “The French Ministry of Defense’s choice of the Patroller certifies its performance and quality, giving Sagem a major advantage in seizing export opportunities for surveillance drones. Several countries have already expressed their interest in the Patroller, especially in Asia and the Middle East.”


Safran is a leading international high-technology group with three core businesses: Aerospace (propulsion and equipment), Defence and Security. Operating worldwide, the Group has 70,000 employees and generated sales of 17.4 billion euros in 2015.

Working independently or in partnership, Safran holds world or European leadership positions in its core markets. The Group invests heavily in Research & Development to meet the requirements of changing markets, including expenditures of more than 2 billion euros in 2015.

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