France aims to use Airbus Aliaca drones on Navy vessels

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France’s military has announced certification of the Airbus Aliaca maritime surveillance, monitoring, and data collection “mini-drone”.

The drone, which has a wingspan of 2.2 meters and can carry up to 16 kgs of payload, will soon accompany French Navy vessels. Deployment of Aliaca mini-drones comes under a contract signed last year with Airbus worth $19.7 million to provide aerial systems to France’s Navy. 

The move by France’s Navy – and French armed forces more broadly – towards aerial observation and data-collecting technologies is part of a global trend among military planners. The motivating factor behind that has been the effective use of data-centric methods for defensive and offensive purposes that essentially allow machines to take over not just the gathering of intelligence, but also the automatic analysis and conclusions drawn from it.

Each of France’s new 11 SMDM Airbus platforms contains two Aliaca mini-drones, which were certified for use by France’s Navy following a series of tests at sea. The craft will perform a range of situational awareness, reconnaissance, and monitoring of the waters surrounding patrol ships.

The Airbus SMDM systems will be deployed aboard the French Navy’s high sea patrol vessels, overseas observation ships, and surveillance frigates in both military situations and non-combat missions such as locating people in rescue situations.

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