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DGA orders additional Aliaca mini-UASs for French Navy

The Aliaca is a light tactical fixed-wing UAS that can be used for a wide range of intelligence, surveillance, and inspection missions or operations, in a maritime, coastal, or land environment. (Charles Wassilieff/Marine Nationale/Défense)

The French Navy is set to receive a second batch of Aliaca Evo fixed-wing electric unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) from Airbus Group subsidiary Survey Copter.

Under a contract awarded by French defence procurement agency Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), Survey Copter will supply 15 UASs to the French Navy – each including two air vehicles plus a ground station.

Announcing the contract on 5 February, Survey Copter said deliveries would begin in 2024. The scope of the contract includes associated training and integrated logistics support.

The deal follows an initial order for 11 Aliaca Evo systems (22 air vehicles in total), which were delivered under a EUR19.7 million (then USD19.5 million) contract awarded by the DGA in late 2020 to meet the French Navy's Système de mini-drones aériens embarqués pour la Marine (SMDM) requirement. Deliveries of the first batch started in June 2022, and the UAS was qualified for operations in July that year.

The systems are being procured for operation from French Navy patrol frigates, ocean-going patrol vessels, avisos, and future patrol vessels.

The Aliaca Evo UAS is a high-endurance system able to carry out three-hour missions within a 50 km (27 n miles) range. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has a length of 2.2 m, a wingspan of 3.6 m, and a maximum take-off weight of 16 kg. It is equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver and a proprietary GX5 stabilised electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) payload, which was specified for the SMDM programme.

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