Safran Electronics & Defense has displayed its Patroller unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during past Eurosatory exhibitions and if this year’s show had not been cancelled it might have shown a mock-up fitted with rocket pods. The French Army has decided to add effectors to the UAV and the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French armament procurement agency, awarded the company a risk-reduction contract in late 2019 to integrate Thales Acüleüs 68 mm induction rockets into the Patroller.
The original 2016 contract is for 14 UAVs and six ground control stations. The investigation into the 6 December 2019 crash landing of a Patroller, apparently due to software issues that should not require hardware modifications, is 95% complete. Test flights have already been resumed.
The need for on-board effectors is a lesson learned by French forces during operations, when they have identified time-sensitive targets of opportunity that could not be neutralised due to a lengthy sensor-to-shooter loop.