The French army has finally chosen its tactical UAV. It is saffron Patroller, who will join the 61st artillery regiment and replace the aging Sagem Sperwer. The contract, amounting to 300 million euros is on the delivery of 14 drones, including 10 operational units, 2 stations controls and 4 drones limited to training. This choice of the Patroller is a surprise to specialists who expect a choice of the Thales Watchkeeper drone already in service in the British army. The drones will be delivered starting in 2018 and then reach the theatres of operation where the French army is engaged.
The drone Patroller Safran’s preferred the Thales Watchkeeper
What twist! While in 2014 the Chief of staff of the armed forces publicly marked his preference, while the French army were forced to launch a European tender while it wished to buy directly from Watchkeeper to Thales, it was saffron which swept the market. A story with many twists and turns since Airbus Defence and Space who wanted to propose the Artemis, a drone based on the Shadow 200, manufactured by American Textron, American filed its offer at the time.
According to Reuters, apart from the fact that the proposal of Saffron was the least costly for the State (EUR 350 million were allocated to this project in the military planning law), the Watchkeeper would have made the difference on the quality of its Optronics. Technically, the Patroller is a drone of a ton which the marketing Board announces a payload capacity of 250 kg for an autonomy of 24 hours of flight. It is built on the cell of a motorglider, Stemme S15. In addition to its Optronics, Safran has unveiled various payloads for its drone, including pods radar or electronic warfare. However no weapon hardpoints referred to date.
The “Cluster Patroller” took the decision facing the very Anglo-French Watchkeeper
The choice of Safra was dictated by other considerations, including industrial? Sagem, Safran Group, was already the supplier of the previous tactical drone of the French army, the Sprewer, now obsolete. According to figures put forward by Air & Cosmos, the Patroller is made in 80% in France, compared to 30-40% for the Franco-British Watchkeeper. Saffron wisely played the string of economic patriotism in creating Cluster Patroller at the Paris Air Show 2015, rallying the panache of its UAV business 25 French involved in the project. A strategy that recalls the Rafale GIE that brings together 500 suppliers involved in the programme of the Dassault Rafale.
Translation : Bing Translator
“Le drone tactique de Safran préféré à celui de Thales”, Reuters, January 21, 2016
“Le future drone tactique de l’armée de terre est le Patroller de Sagem”, Air&Cosmos, January 21, 2016
“Drone tactique : le chef d’état-major des armées veut le Watchkeeper”, La Tribune, November 10, 2014
“Le drone Patroller intègre une nouvelle chaîne image multi-capteurs”, Air&Cosmos, June 16, 2014