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France Tests Europe's First Long-Endurance Surveillance Drone

Example of a French drone being launched. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Sep 11, 2006
France's military carried out Europe's first test flight of a long-endurance unmanned surveillance vehicle known as the MALE drone, the country's defence ministry said on Monday. It is now set to carry out 12 more test flights of MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance Drone), aiming to bring the vehicles into service in the French air force in 2007, the ministry said in a statement.

In the test-flight, a drone flew for an hour and a half from the Istres air base in southern France.

Two drones could be used in relay to provide 24-hour surveillance over an area, it added.

The drones are designed for jobs such as surveillance and reconnaissance missions over a range of more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles).

Their various observation capabilities, including infrared and radar devices, allowed them to operate "day and night and in all weather", the ministry said, calling the use of the drones a "major advance".

Source: Agence France-Presse

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