Sagem of France, maker of the Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle used by some coalition nations in Afghanistan, has announced new moves on the UAV scene.
First it has partnered with Seguritech of Mexico to jointly develop drone systems and surveillance payloads in the country using the Patroller as the base for the systems.
Second, it has announced formation of the Patroller Cluster, a grouping of high-tech companies from France and throughout Europe that specialize in drone systems to develop UAV solutions to meet the specific needs and requirements of European military forces.
“It [the Cluster] will provide the technological building blocks that play a decisive role in the performance of the airframe and mission payload,” Sagem said in its announcement. “The Cluster will provide close industrial support for armed forces, quickly providing competitive solutions to evolving operational needs, with complete autonomy.”
The Patroller is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle. It can carry a total payload of about 551 pounds — 176 pounds under each wing, and the remainder internally.
The system is of modular design, with endurance of more tham 20 hours and a ceiling of 20,000 feet. Sagem says its design utilizes lessons learned from the operation of its earlier Sperwer drone, which flew missions in Afghanistan for coalition forces.
Under Sagem’s collaborative agreement with Seguritech, Sagem “will contribute its skills and expertise in aerial surveillance, based on its Patroller drone system, underpinning industrial collaboration between France and Mexico.”
Additional details, however, were not disclosed, but Sagem indicated its arrangement with Seguritech was aimed at the Mexican and Latin American markets.
Sagem said its Patroller Cluster of companies — 25 in all, specializing in optics, lasers, data compression, simulation, virtual reality, propulsion, high-precision mechanics, and materials — offers a host of advantages for drone development in Europe.
Among the companies are Ecarys/Stemme of Germany, supplier of the Patroller airframe, and Selex, which supplies the imaging radar and avionics equipment. Others include Eragny (R&D), Fougères (pc boards), Dijon (optronic pods), Massy (C4ISR systems), Poitiers (infrared imagers), and Montluçon (system integration and ground segment).
“France produces about 85 to 90 percent of the Patroller,” said Frederic Mazzanti, Sagem vice President and head of the Optronics & Defense division. “In fact, French design is at the heart of its mission system. Through Sagem, this new program will drive the development of a competitive drone industry serving both France and export markets.”
In other UAV news from Europe, French air navigation service provider DSNA and Safran have signed an agreement to collaborate on the integration of drones in civil airspace.
The two companies will jointly bid on contracts offered within the scope of the European research program SESAR 2020. SESAR, or Single European Sky ATM Research, is a program to modernize air traffic management systems and is financed by the European Commission and the Trans-European Transport Network.
The agreement is focused on research and development projects for anti-collision technologies and associated procedures.