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Paris Air Show 2023: New MALE UAV prototype unveiled

The Aarok UAV prototype displayed at the Paris Air Show 2023, demonstrated with various French payloads and capabilities. (Janes/Olivia Savage)

Turgis & Gaillard has unveiled a new medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) called Aarok at the Paris Air Show 2023, held from 19 to 25 June.

The company, based in France, developed the MALE UAV prototype as a more affordable alternative to other similar platforms such as the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, which meets both French and its allied forces' requirements, Laetitia Hertz, media and communications representative for Turgis & Gaillard,told Janes.

Aarok is designed as a multirole platform suited for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, as well as for high-intensity strike roles and as a communications node on the battlefield.

With a maximum take-off weight of nearly 5,500 kg and an ability to carry up to 3,000 kg (1,500 kg of armaments), the system can be fitted with a variety of payloads such as Safran's Euroflir 610 electro-optical sensor and its precision-guided munition, Armement Air-Sol Modulaire, as well as various other multirole radars, electronic warfare sensors, and anti-tank missiles.

A first flight is planned by the autumn (September to December) of 2023, and by 2025 the UAV will be operational, although this depends on the customer, Hertz said.

Aarok is a self-funded UAV that is highly modular and is intended to showcase French capabilities, Hertz said. She added that the platform was designed to complement rather than compete against the Eurodrone.

The UAV has a wingspan of 22 m, acruising speed of 287 mph, and a cruising altitude of 30,000 ft, Hertz added.

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