Julian Moxon/PARIS

The French procurement agency (DGA) has released a request for proposals for the first of two unmanned air vehicle (UAV) contracts to meet urgent army and air force requirements arising from last year's Kosovo conflict.

The winners of both competitions will be decided by early 2001, with service entry planned for late 2002. The speed of the programme means that only off-the-shelf equipment will be considered.

Companies likely to bid for the programmes were exhibiting at the Eurosatory land systems exhibition in Paris last week.

The first RFP calls for an intermediate tactical UAV system for the SDTI (système de drone tactique intermediaire) and is to complement the Sagem Crecerelle UAV which has been in service with the army for five years. Around 15 UAVs are required. The second, for five vehicles, will provide a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE)capability for the air force. The requirement follows a five-year test programme using an Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Hunter UAV to demonstrate all-weather target acquisition and laser designation capabilities.

Responses to the RFP are expected from Aerospatiale Matra, teamed with its new short-range UAV partner CAC Systemes and IAI; Elbit System's Silver Arrow subsidiary, and Sagem.

For the SDTI element, Aerospatiale Matra will offer the CAC Systèmes Ranger and for the MALE requirement the Eagle, a derivative of the IAI Heron that is interoperable with the Ranger.

Silver Arrow says it will submit proposals for both contracts, although vice-president marketing Moshe Charash adds that the company, "has not decided what to offer for the SDTI requirement." It will submit the twin-engined Hermes 1500 for the MALE element.

Sagem will offer its Sperwer tactical UAV for the SDTI programme, 60 of which have been sold to the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. For the MALE requirement, it is teamed with US company General Atomics, offering the Predator.

France plans to satisfy its long-term UAV requirements through the MCMM (multi-capteur, multi-mission) programme, which aims to develop vehicles with emerging technology in seeker and processor miniaturisation.

Source: Flight International