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19 June 2015

Sagem Celebrates 25 Years of UAS Business

Angling for a French Army contract for new tactical UAS, on day two of Paris Air Show 2015, Sagem unveiled its plans on how to consolidate its UAS expertise under the Safran banner.

PATROLLER UAS (Photo: Sagem)

Vice president of Sagem’s optronics and defence division Frédéric Mazzanti explained that the Patroller, his company’s latest UAS, builds on experience gained during 25 years of research, development and production of unmanned systems: “We have developed a series of successful UAS programs, from the Marula and Crecerelle, to the SPERWER and now the PATROLLER, all symbols of our confidence in the future. Through the SPERWER programme, we built up recognised expertise in tactical UAS. We understand and apply the key skills and technologies needed for an effective tactical UAS system, from design and development to production and support.”

Sagem produced a total of 25 SPERWER systems that included over 150 air vehicles, most of which were sold for exports. While still in use with the French Army, SPERWER was also operated by lead customer the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and Canada. Despite Sagem now focusing on the PATROLLER programme, Mazzanti made clear that his company will continue to support SPERWER systems through 2018.

Speaking about the company’s latest UAS, Mazzanti boasted, “the PATROLLER is clearly today's best solution in its class, in terms of operational efficiency and reduced cost of ownership.”

EUROFLIR 410 payload for PATROLLER UAS (Photo: Sagem)

Typically operating at an altitude of 6,000m, the PATROLLER is a multi-sensor UAS in the 1t class. It carries a payload of 250kg, under the fuselage (EUROFLIR 410 SP EO/IR) or in underwing pods (radar and COMINT/ELINT), and offers an endurance of up to 20 hours. The open architectured system also includes GCS, RVTs and a LOS datalink that can deal with ranges of up to 200km.
Conceived with criteria such as long endurance, robustness, ease of maintenance and high availability in mind, PATROLLER is designed by Sagem as an OPV. Hence, the aircraft’s ability to operate in a manned mode, turning it into a dual use system that can be used to support combat and peacekeeping operations as well as domestic operations conducted in coooperation with local authorities. This way PATROLLER is perfectly able to operate in congested, non-segregated airspace regardless of what the future will bring with regard to regulations on how to integrate unmanned systems. With regard to PATROLLER’s unmanned abilities, Mazzanti said: “We have chosen a system that can be certified. However, it is not certified yet as the DGAC (France’s civil aviation authority) still needs to issue guidelines.

In addition to the French Army requirement, Sagem is also bidding with its PATROLLER in Poland that also has a requirement for a tactical UAS.

Sagem is now also introducing the so-called “PATROLLER Cluster,” a grouping of high-tech companies that are specialised in unmanned systems. Included are French firms specialised in optics, lasers, data compression, simulation, virtual reality, propulsion, high-precision mechanics, materials, flight safety, and certification. At the European level, Sagem is teaming up with Ecarys of Germany, formerly known as Stemme UMS, supplier of the S15 high performance moterglider on which PATROLLER is based, and Selex which supplies the imaging radar and avionics equipment. Mazzanti also detailed Sagem’s own activities in developing UAS: “Our R&D and production facilities in the country have nearly 200 employees. These include Eragny-sur-Oise for the drone systems, Massy for the optronic sensors and C2 systems, Dijon for the optronic pods, Fougères for the printed circuit boards, Poitiers for cameras and optical components, and Montluçon for final assembly and systems integration.

Soldier checking the EUROFLIR 410 payload of PATROLLER UAS. (Photo: Sagem)

The Cluster will ensure close industrial support for armed forces, quickly providing competitive solutions to evolving operational needs, with complete autonomy,” according to Mazzanti who went on to say: “nearly 90% of the PATROLLER is made in France.”

In November, Sagem completed a series of flight tests demonstrating the feasibility of a UAV being integrated in a shared airspace. Under the ODREA (Operational Demonstration of RPAS in European Airspace) project that is being conducted within the scope of the European SESAR project, a series of about 20 flights were made using Sagem’s PATROLLER. Together with the French air navigation and safety agency DSNA, the laboratory run by the national civil aviation school ENAC and Rockwell Collins France, Sagem demonstrated a "see and avoid" system integrated in the PATROLLER's control system that combines traffic detection sensors, including an infrared optronic sensor, and an automatic risk collision estimation and avoidance flightpath generation module.
Pieter Bastiaans
PATROLLER UAS. (Photo: Sagem)

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