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France gets 6 UAVs from Canada, eyes more

Sperwer UAV.
by Staff Writers
Paris (UPI) Oct 16, 2009
France has taken delivery of six unmanned air vehicles from Canada.

French Defense Ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire said experts were "verifying the conditions of the six UAV Sperwers bought from Canada to assess their operating conditions," Avionews reported.

France is already using four of these aircraft in operations in Afghanistan.

Teisseire also acknowledged that France was in talks for the purchase of a fourth SIDM interim medium altitude long-endurance UAV.

"We are in the process of buying a fourth SIDM," Teisseire told French media. Three of the French Air Force's SIDMs are built by EADS. One of the aircraft was damaged while flying in Afghanistan earlier this year.

It is currently undergoing maintenance operations in Mont de Marsan in central France, and expected to be back into service in 2010 with the induction of the new UAV.

The Air Force calls the SIDM "Harfang," or "Snow Owl."

France's fourth SIDM is also expected to be deployed by next year and used for training.

As for the UAVs, Teisseire told French media that the purchase of six SDTI from Canada had been completed.

"They are already on the ground," he was quoted as saying by Defense News.

The report said Safran group's Sagem had delivered 18 Sperwer aircraft and four launch systems in 2004, and additional three more were ordered in June.

The French defense spokesman also did not deny that France was in negotiations to purchase Reaper UAVs from General Atomics, a U.S. based company specializing in harnessing the power of nuclear technologies and development of remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors and advanced electric, electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

"All options are being studied for acquisition of medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs beyond 2015," Teisseire said.

The French services are gathering information from operating the existing UAV fleet and will capitalize on the lessons learned, Teisseire said, according to Defense News.

For the MALE segment, it added, Thales and Dassault Aviation have joined forces with Indra to offer "the SDM, based on the Heron TP from Israel Aircraft Industries, while EADS has completed a risk reduction study on the Talarion, a jet-powered UAV."

It is estimated that France's development share for Talarion will be about $672 million.

The French newsletter AeroDefense News quoted EADS senior vice President Nicolas Chamussy as saying that the recurring costs were forecast between 90 million and 100 million euros ($134.15 million to $149 million) , based on three air vehicles, the payload and ground station.

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