From sources close to the French DGA dossier (French Government Defense procurement and technology agency), the Sagem Patroller (Safran group) has been chosen to renew the French Army fleet of tactical drones.
In total, the French Army will acquire fourteen units, of which four will be used for training. First deliveries are expected in early 2018. The 300 million euro contract includes ten years’ operational maintenance.
Why was the Thales Watchkeeper, used by the British army, not chosen? Not because of price – the cost of the two drones is almost identical – but essentially the Patroller’s superior performance in terms of imaging and endurance, which for a drone designed to perform long surveillance missions, are crucial.
Flight tests, conducted by the DGA and the French Army, demonstrated the excellent performance of its electro-optic camera that provides high-resolution images and extremely precise target location. Other assets, are its 12 to 14-hour flight autonomy, and the ability to control the unmanned air vehicle up to a distance of 90 miles (150 km).
This acceptance of the Patroller should help create and maintain 250-300 French jobs, following the expected signing of the contract within the next few days.