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 for 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 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.
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.”