France has long been the subject of unmanned aerial vehicles ( UAVs) and to date has created a few dozen drones of different types and classes . Meanwhile , the French UAVs are not distinguished by reliability , and is often criticized for this as their armed forces and foreign , but work on an unmanned topics do not stop, and in some sense the situation emerging in France, with the development of UAVs, like the situation in this area in Russia .
UAV Sperwer, created by Sagem , together with Dassault, resembles its predecessor Crecerelle, but it has large dimensions : flight mass unit increased to 330 kg (against 115 kg), and wing span - up to 4,2 m (against 3,3 m ) . The system is designed to meet the challenges intelligence , surveillance and targeting , but the duration of the flight is only 6:00 , which , as noted by some experts , not so much for the spy plane . So , for example , the American Shadow 200 can stay aloft for up to nine hours , and larger Shadow 600 - 12 . Probably , the reason for the low performance UAV Sperwer - in its inefficient aerodynamic configuration .
In the basic configuration Sperwer includes three UAVs , ground control station , a pneumatic catapult on the chassis of 10- ton truck , as well as receiving station for data posted on -road vehicles . The system can be transported on two planes of class C-130 and operated with the unequipped position.
In 2003 Sperwer launched by the armed forces the Army of France, including in March 2006 it is used in Afghanistan. The complex is supplied and for export , but the experience of its use was controversial. For example, in 2003, Canada bought six sets Sperwer ( worth 33 million dollars ) , and in February 2006 began to exploit them as part of its contingent in Afghanistan. However, in the spring of that year it became known that during one of the operations due to technical problems Canadians have lost a drone. Speaking about the shortcomings of the complex , the military , including the high level of noise generated by cylinder engine Bombardier-Rotax 562UL. Because of him in Afghanistan Sperwer even earned the nickname " lawn " . In summer 2007 , Canada replaced the Sperwer on unmanned systems a large class of Heron development of the Israeli company Israel Aerospace Industries.
Technical problems forced to renounce the use of UAVs Sperwer and Denmark . In 2006 it was decided to withdraw these complexes from the armed forces of Denmark and sell them abroad at a price ten times less than the purchase price . If their purchase cost the Danes in 73 million dollars , then they were sold for just $ 7 million that the cheaper cost of resource components comprising the complexes . The Minister of Defence of Denmark Soren Geyd made quite sharp statement , calling the actual characteristics of these complexes was worse than reported by French side , complexes themselves "unreliable " and technical problems with them " intractable " .
Apparently , problems have arisen and from the Dutch military. In the spring of 2009 it was reported that they stopped using UAVs Sperwer and rented Israeli complexes . A year earlier , in April 2008 , in the Netherlands were conducted experimental flights to explore the possibilities of Sperwer civilian missions .
In the development of the project developed a modernized version of Sagem Sperwer B with a larger wingspan , increased duration of the flight (from 6 to 12 hours, according to other sources - up to 20 hours ) and a payload ( from 37 to 100 kg). Sperwer In addition to intelligence , may perform and shock problem . For this purpose it is equipped with two underwing hard points payload capacity of 30 kg each, which can be mounted antitank missiles Rafael Spike LR or a system of precision weapons on the basis of homing submunition from the 155- mm cassette shell BONUS joint BAE Systems Bofors ( Sweden) and Nexter ( France ). Test Series UAV Sperwer B was successfully held in 2006 on the basis of the Arctic Test Center unmanned company Robonic in Kemijärvi ( Finland).
Tactical UAV Short Range Tracker, known in France under the name DRAC (Drone de Renseignement Au Contact), was developed by the Survey Copter on outsourcing group EADS, which acted as system integrator. Takeoff weight apparatus is only 8,2 kg . The entire complex in the transport position takes two backpack , which makes it applicable to the problems of intelligence work " over the hill " . The system allows not only to conduct surveys in the area day and night , but to analyze the received images , detect , identify and follow different objectives . The maximum flight UAVs - about two hours, the range of - 10 km.
The basic package includes two UAVs , compact control station and antenna system for automatic tracking . The first 25 complexes of the French Defense Ministry had purchased in July 2008 In January 2010 there were reports of supplying the French army an additional 35 systems, DRAC, adapted for use in mountainous terrain , and in May 2010 - on the order before the 50 systems . These UAVs are already being applied by French troops in Afghanistan. EADS proposes UAVs for export , saying the sale is a single buyer , but the specific foreign customers are not yet identified.
Medium- UAVs have several advantages compared with the tactical UAVs . In addition to longer range and duration of flight, the main one being - increased medium- size devices, which allow you to set them greater range of sensors and weapons.
In this class in France are two basic models: UAV Eagle 1 and Eagle 2, received a generic term Harfang ( formerly SIDM). These projects are based on the Israeli Heron UAVs and Heron TP company Israel Aerospace Industries. The first has a maximum takeoff weight of 1200 kg , of which 250 kg of payload. The device can stay aloft for up to 30 hours, working at a distance of up to 1700 km. The range of the UAV Eagle 2 ( weight 2900 kg ) increased to 2900 km . The maximum duration of flight - 24 hours .
First flight of UAVs Harfang held in September 2006 and June 2008 were completed testing. In February 2009, UAV Harfang French air force made its first flight in Afghanistan . But in October the same year there were reports that France plans to acquire for $ 100 million complex of two U.S. unmanned General Atomics MQ- 9 Reaper, including four drones and two ground control stations . This should be done urgently requested , since two of the three UAVs Harfang, used by the French in Afghanistan , in need of repair . Journalists , in turn , did not fail to mention the fact that France is leading a lot of programs UAVs can obtain for themselves a lot of useful , having studied the American drones in action.
However, perhaps these plans were only plans. No information on procurement French Reaper UAV could not be found . In contrast , in late 2009, it was announced that the French Defense Ministry has ordered a fourth and a third Harfang UAV ground control station worth 34 million euros. Ordered systems should be put in the summer of 2010 , primarily intended to use them for training operators of UAVs.
In France, work is underway and other unmanned systems, medium- class . One is a drone Talarion, development of which began under the aegis of EADS in 2009, France also participate in the project as Germany and Spain . The cost of creating Talarion estimated at 1.5 billion euros , taking into account built 15 units for the three countries. France and Germany should get six UAVs , and Spain - three . According to plans of EADS, Talarion must make its first flight in 2013, predicts the General Directorate of the French armament (DGA) first Talarion drones will do to the troops in the years 2018-2020 .
Layout UAV Talarion became one of the high-profile Premier salon in Le Bourget in 2009, however, novelty may face funding problems . According to EADS CEO Louis Galois (Louis Gallois), the concern will be to finance the program only until mid- 2010 then the turn of the main investors - the governments of France , Germany and Spain , but they have not yet given any response.
At the same airshow was first exhibited UAV Patroller, which first flew just before the opening of the exhibition. UAVs developed by Sagem , together with the German firm Stemme, which is engaged in designing motor gliders . Patroller is based on motor gliders Stemme S10-VT and can stay aloft for more than 30 hours , bringing on board a payload of up to 250 kg . Interestingly, the Russian company Irkut also used the powered glider as a platform for its UAVs Irkut -850 . Moreover , according to representatives of Irkut , this apparatus is already in use Russian Emergency Ministry . The idea of creating a large UAV flight duration on the existing airframe as a whole rather tempting . However, it has its caveats . Glider is not easy to handle , but unmanned , this problem only becomes more complicated .
Impact UAV Neuron
Project Impact Neuron UAV was launched by Dassault in 2003 was expected to create nearly invisible strike aircraft, capable of a high degree of autonomy to carry out combat missions , in particular, to destroy enemy targets . Neuron UAV was to encompass the most advanced European developments in the field of materials , aviamotorostroeniya , avionics and microelectronics, artificial intelligence systems , equipped with the most technologically advanced weaponry .
In 2005, the program joined the Swedish Saab AB and the Italian Alenia Aeronautica. Both companies have experience in the field of unmanned systems , including combat UAVs. For example, in Sweden, designed and was tested an experimental UAV Saab Filur, and in Italy - UAV Sky-X. In 2006, the countries participating in the project Neuron joined by Spain , Greece and Switzerland.
Neuron UAV resembles American drone strike X-45C and X-47B ( made on a " flying wing ", in order to reduce radar visibility - without the vertical and horizontal tail ), but somewhat less of them - its maximum takeoff weight of leaves about 6 m ( against nearly 20 tons of X-47B and 16,5 tons of UAV Phantom Ray, produced by Boeing in the development of the project X-45C). Apparently , Neuron is a kind of " response " of Europe on the development of the United States .
Neuron project is estimated at 405 million euros . Of this amount, we know that France allocates half - 202.5 million euros. Sweden 's contribution is estimated at 75 million euros , of which 66 million euros gives the company Saab. Another 35.5 million euros from 2007 to 2012 to invest in the project , Spain . Information on the investments in Italy , Greece and Switzerland in the open press no. As expected , the cost of one copy Neuron UAV must reach 25 million euros . First flight of Neuron was originally scheduled for 2009, then postponed to 2011 and is now scheduled for March 2012
The largest of the French unmanned helicopters - Orca 1200, full-size mock-up which was first shown at Le Bourget in 2003 - created concern EADS on the basis of a light piston helicopter piloted Guimbal Cabri G2. UAV is designed for maritime reconnaissance and surveillance for up to eight hours . For this purpose it is equipped with systems payload total weight of 180 kg. According to the vice -president of EADS Patrick Oswald , the company deliberately decided to develop UAVs smaller in size than the American Helicopter UAV Northrop Grumman MQ- 8 Fire Scout ( take-off mass of 680 kg against 1200 kg ), because the smaller size UAVs will significantly increase the number of ships, from the board which it can be used . The market in Europe and Asia value the company at 500-1000 systems . But the project apparently quite expensive and complicated . Despite the rapid start , no data on his fate in the available sources could not be found .
In 2007, EADS submitted a helicopter UAV close- Shark ( the first flight took place in June of that year ). This device is similar in its dimensions Camcopter S100 Austrian company Schiebel - maximum takeoff weight of the apparatus is 190 kg including 60 kg payload - but unlike the latter developed by co-axial circuit. The device can carry out aerial surveillance for up to four hours, give indication , to assess the damage inflicted on the enemy . To do this, Shark can be equipped with optical- electronic and infrared equipment , as well as a miniature airborne synthetic aperture radar . In addition , UAVs can be used to perform civilian tasks , such as for monitoring of industrial facilities, oil and gas pipelines , etc. However, this is all about potential applications . Information as to the practical application of this complex also could not be found .
Mentioned in connection with participation in the development of mini- UAV Tracker Survey Copter company also participated in the creation of light helicopter UAVs . According to information available from the planned line of three helicopters are now ready to the first two devices - Copter 1 and 1b. Work on the senior drone series Copter 4 has not yet been completed . First-born son are fairly small size - the maximum takeoff weight of about 15 kg, of which approximately 5 kg is reserved for the payload. The range of the drones - 5 km . The third series of the UAV will be slightly larger - maximum takeoff weight of about 30 kg . UAVs will be able to fly at a distance of up to 8 km from the station management . The EADS is promoting complex created on the basis of these UAVs under the names of Scorpio Scorpio 6 and 30. All the drones can be used both in military and civilian purposes . It may be a military intelligence " over the hill " in the interests of small units , and the use of such structures as police and security services .
Almost like in Russia
A closer study of the situation in terms of development and use of UAV systems in France, she recalled a picture that is emerging in this respect in Russia . In France , as in our country:
* developed dozens of projects UAVs, but only a small part of their military use . Maximum attention to the military of both countries are paying a tactical UAV class ;
* Development of helicopter UAV is moving rather slowly, as companies attempt to convince the military of the need to fund the programs until you find the response ;
* within the subject matter is unmanned cooperation with Israel . However , in this respect the French have shown great foresight , not limiting the purchase of UAVs , as a joint venture for the localization of the Israeli systems;
* indicated interest in establishing long-term impact drone , whose development in both countries is far from being " full swing " .
However, France is part of the UAV systems is a step ahead of Russia . There are a number of reasons , but the main advantage of France, in our view, provided the experience that have been purchased by the French military and civil services in the real operation of unmanned systems (not only French ). This experience allows us to eliminate errors and create a vision for further development , and this experience so do not have enough Russian developers .
Denis FEDUTINOV - editor of an Internet portal UAV.RU