France is very interested in the Patroler of SAGEM

According to some rumours heard in several meetings and round tables, France is in negotiations with the firm SAGEM for pursuing the UAV MALE’s type: Patroller M and R.

The UAV would be for use in maritime surveillance for its long-range capabilities in order to support current employed machines in such task, but also to replace the first UAV Sperwers from the Army and avoiding so, breaking French capabilities despite the purchase of other unmanned aerial vehicles in 2009.

The main obstacle in the discussions covers the contract’s amount. If the vehicle’s number is not yet decided, the cost for a single unit would be approximately €23 millions. It seems reasonably competitive compared to other competitors’ product. By the way, the patroller’s ground station is based upon the same SDTI-Sperwer requirements.

The recent purchase of three new Sperwer Mk.II  by the French DGA with new optronic systems like the Euroflir 350 by SAGEM and the contracting for the upgrade of those acquired in 2009,  has further delayed the final decision.

The Patroller is competing in the same market as the American Predator and the Israeli Heron. Eventually, the recent contract awarded to Boeing for 179 KC-X has somewhat cooled the ardor of people defending the General Atomics’ solution. Moreover, the need to send French militaries to the US for operating some hypothetic Predators due to a lack of Ku-band data link capacity with French satellites doesn’t serve the General Atomic’s purpose.

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