16.6.2020

First Spy Ranger system delivered to the French Army

French Ground Force receives first three Thales SMDR reconnaissance mini-drones – link

Source: Army Recognition

Article Headlines

  • Following verification operations carried out on Thales’ Elancourt site and on DGA Techniques terretres’ site, the DGA has just authorized the delivery by Thales to the French Army of the first three reconnaissance mini-drones designated SMDR (systèmes de mini-drones de reconnaissance)
  • Intended to ensure detection, recognition and identification missions, they succeed the DRAC system (contact intelligence drone) in service since 2008. Delivered to the Technical Section of the French Army (STAT) to be tested by operational personnel, they will be deployable in operation by the end of 2020
  • They will be operated by the mini-drone sections of the acquisition and surveillance batteries of artillery regiments and by the 61st Regiment of artillery (61st RA)
  • SMDR consists of three identical Spy Ranger drones and a ground station
  • With a wingspan of almost 4 meters and a weight of 15 kg, the drone has an endurance of around 2:30 hrs
  • The drone can transmit high-definition video streams in real time for up to 30 km from the ground station
  • The 2019-2025 LPM provides for the delivery of 10 other reconnaissance mini-drone systems before the end of 2020. The army will have a fleet of 35 systems by 2021. These systems will receive support in terms of training, logistics and maintenance for 10 years

Overview & Comments

  • Contracted in late 2016 for €3 million for 35 systems with a further 35 under option the Spy Ranger was intended to enter service in 2019 in the French Army as it is the system’s launch customer
  • At 15 kg and just under 4 m of wingspan the system is on the larger side of its category of deployable mini systems
  • The underside is the need for additional logistics (ie launch rail) and a heavier AV to be physically carried by infantry or vehicles thus consisting more storage space
  • The belly landing technique does in fact make a landing mechanism redundant and might achieve a higher precision with regards to its designated landing spot, in relation to other means of landing, however, it does require a fairly prepared landing site and a relative shallow approach thus reducing mission versatility as well as a higher chance of damage to the airframe and payload, even with a retractable mechanism as it is a single point failure potential
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