Sagem has listed the 25 companies that are enrolled in the “Patroller Cluster” and helping it to develop this tactical UAV. Frederic Mazzanti, executive vice president of the company’s Optronics and Defence division, said that nearly 90 percent of the Patroller is made in France and claimed that Sagem’s leadership will create “a competitive French drone industry.” The Safran subsidiary is in a closely-fought French Army competition for a new tactical UAV with Thales and Airbus D&S, with a decision expected by year end.
Speaking at a reception to mark Sagem’s 25th anniversary in the drone business, Mazzanti claimed that the Patroller is “the best solution in terms of operational efficiency and reduced cost of ownership.
The Patroller airframe is based on an Ecarys (formerly Stemme) S15 motor-glider, and first flew in 2008. Mazzanti said that it has since flown “hundreds of times” in a completely self-funded development program. He noted that Sagem has been leading discussions with the French airworthiness agency DGAC on certification of the Patroller system so that it can fly in non-segregated airspace–the S15 platform itself is already certified to theEASA CS23 standard.
Sagem is stressing its long experience in building and supporting tactical UAVs as a unique qualifier to secure the French Army contract, and export business. The company is best known for the rail-launched Sperwer UAV, which logged nine years of combat operations in Afghanistan with the Canadian, Dutch and French armies. Mazzanti said the company had produced 25 Sperwer systems (150 aircraft) and that 18 of them remain operational with the French army today. He declined to say whether Sagem will continue to invest in the Patroller, in order to secure export contracts, if it loses the French Army competition.
Patroller is being pitched to France for its Système de drone tactique programme, for which all of the three contenders are undergoing or planning flight demonstrations of their systems in the coming weeks. Sagem believes it will be the first sale for its UAV.
The other offerings are the Thales WK450 Watchkeeper and Airbus/Textron Systems Shadow M2.
“For Sperwer, France was the fourth customer,” says Frédéric Mazzanti, vice-president of Sagem’s optronics and defence division. “We hope that this time the French will be the first…. We have a very strong team for this.”
Mazzanti claims that the multi-intelligence capability of Patroller gives it a competitive edge, as well as its ability to transmit multiple types of sensor information simultaneously.
“We are able – and will demonstrate this in July to the French army – to broadcast all the data to the ground at the same time,” Mazzanti says, adding that tests of the SDT will take place at Istres air base in France.
Depending on the configuration, eight to 11 sensors can be incorporated into one gimbal on Patroller, and it benefits from a wide-range radar and a narrow forward-looking infrared sensor
The Patroller’s Euroflir fourth-generation high-definition electro-optical/infrared sensor is also a Sagem product, whereas its synthetic aperture/ground moving target indicator radar is provided by Selex ES. Mazzanti revealed that the company will demonstrate to the French army next month, a “unique” capability of broadcasting both sensors at the same time. Sagem is also offering an option to replace the radar with a Comint sensor, and a maritime surveillance version with AIS and a 360-degree radar. The endurance of the Patroller is 20 hours, and the ceiling is 20,000 feet.