Thales will deliver the first batch of Spy'Ranger fixed-wing mini unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) to the French armament procurement agency Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA) late in 2018, the company's product line manager of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Pascal Sécretin told Jane's on 30 May. The DGA will then deliver them to the French Army in the first quarter of 2019 and deliveries will run until 2020.
The DGA awarded Thales a EUR104.3 million (USD117 million) contract in December 2016 for a batch of 35 systems, a 10 year maintenance, repair, and operations package (MRO), and an option for additional 35 systems.
The acquisition known as the Système de MiniDrones de Renseignement (SMDR) effort will gradually replace existing Airbus Drone de Renseignement Au Contact (DRAC) UAVs. It will provide an information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability to the army's combined arms tactical groups.
Each system consists of three vehicles and one ground control station. The ground control station has a tripod-mounted datalink module that is linked to a computer via the internet and runs Thales' Spy'C command and control software, which runs on Linux resource. It also carries transport items and a carbon-made lightweight launching ramp. The airframe is made of carbon fibre with landing cushion made of patented foam, which was developed by French firm Aviation Design.
The air vehicle includes a Spy'Ball retractable multifunctional electro-optical head from Merio, which was designed according Thales' specifications to include an electric motor coupled to a rear-mounted carbon-made two-blade propeller, lithium polymer batteries, a data link antenna, and a processing module.
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