Sagem is exhibiting its optionally-piloted Patroller with a newly trialled communications intelligence (COMINT) payload, as the Safran Group company eyes a requirement to supply the French army with a new-generation tactical unmanned air system.
On static display installed beneath the roughly 1t aircraft's starboard wing, the pod-housed COMINT system has a total weight of 40kg (88lb), including computer and processor equipment. Its electronic warfare payload was provided by an undisclosed European supplier for a series of flight trials performed from Sagem's Eragny site near Paris from 10-13 June.
Conducted with a pilot onboard, the activity also retained the Patroller's Sagem Euroflir 410 electro-optical/infrared payload and data link, and automatic identification system equipment for maritime search tasks.
Using the Stemme S15 airframe, the Patroller has previously been certificated to perform unmanned operations via flight trials performed at the Istres flight test centre in southern France. Flight endurance is cited as up to 30h, with the system capable of being flown to an altitude of 25,000ft (7,620m).
If fielded operationally, a COMINT payload could be used to relay information about intercepted communications to a ground station, or to an onboard pilot if the aircraft is employed in a crewed configuration.
France has yet to issue a tender to replace its Sagem Sperwer tactical UAS, which were used by its army for several years in Afghanistan. Once launched, this process will also consider the British Army's Watchkeeper system, which is on display this week at Thales's outside exhibit sporting the French service's markings.
Developed using company funds, the Patroller was also during May 2013 demonstrated in support of a land exercise conducted in a non-disclosed "desert environment", and as part of air and naval manoeuvres.
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