The French army will receive an additional batch of DRAC unmanned air vehicles from EADS company Cassidian Air Systems under a 5 April deal with the nation's DGA defence procurement agency.

A development of the company's Tracker mini UAV, DRAC entered operational use with the French army in Afghanistan last October. Each system comprises a portable ground station with two air vehicles, plus related sensor payloads and tracking equipment.

The DGA has not revealed the number of additional systems to be delivered, but says they were listed as options in France's previous purchase, signed in December 2004. Deliveries of the new equipment will take place between mid-2011 and early 2013, it says.


"This contract is a demonstration of the recognised reliability and qualities of the DRAC system in service with operational army units in Afghanistan," says Nicolas Chamussy, Cassidian Air Systems' head of unmanned aerial systems.

Feedback received from field operations has enabled the company to "significantly improve the performance of this mini-UAV", he adds.

Paris has taken delivery of at least 60 DRAC systems since mid-2008.

Cassidian says the hand-launched design can operate for up to 90min and relay real-time surveillance images over a distance of more than 10km (5.4nm).

Source: Flight International