DGA - the French procurement organisation - has ordered five Sagem Sperwer Mk II tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the French Army.
These will complement earlier Sperwer UAV variants already in French Army service and they'll be supplied through a rolling delivery contract that will begin in late summer 2012.
According to Sagem, these hi-tech drones will help the French Army maintain its superiority in this highly-advanced field of military tactics.
Remotely-controlled, the Sperwer (‘Sparrowhawk') has a five-hour endurance, a 200 kilometre range and a maximum altitude beyond 16,000 feet. Catapult-launched, it can be positioned virtually on the edge of a conflict zone and lands with the aid of a built-in parachute.
The Sperwer UAV's forward operating capability makes it much more readily-deployable than traditional military aircraft and even helicopters, since the system doesn't require a conventional air base setting. It can also carry a 50 kilogram payload and it cruises at 90 knots.
The whole Sperwer system - including the UAV, its catapult, its ground data terminal and its ground control station - can be fitted inside a C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, or transported by road.
The Sperwer UAV's roles including surveillance, target acquisition, intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance, all in support of troops working on the ground below.
French Army UAV Contract
No information has been released on the value of the new French Army UAV contract but, alongside it, there's a second related contract for Sagem, calling on it to upgrade all in-service French Sperwers. This upgrade will give them the same GPS technology used in the Dassault Rafale multirole fighters that presently equip the French Army and French Air Force.
Besides with the French Army, this UAV design also serves with the Greek Army and the US National Air Guard. Its operational history includes use in Afghanistan, although the air arms involved have since retired it in favour of newer UAV systems.
Image copyright Georges Seguin - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons