The French Defense Innovation Agency (AID) has announced the selection of two consortia of companies in response to the LARINAE call for projects. This initiative, jointly launched by AID and the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA), aims to identify independent solutions for medium-range remote-operated ammunition. The desired ammunition should have the capability to neutralize armored targets within a radius of 50 km, with a flight time exceeding 60 minutes. Out of the 16 industrial proposals received, the project led by MBDA and the one developed by NEXTER Arrowtech, EOS Technology, and TRAAK have been chosen for further development. The initial demonstrations of these projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2024. These demonstrations will enable AID and DGA to assess the suitability of the proposed solutions in meeting the operational requirements expressed by the French armed forces.
The call for proposals by AID highlights the emphasis on innovation to approach problems from a fresh perspective. Rather than relying on detailed technical specifications, the call focused on describing the desired effects to be achieved. The goals set for the projects are ambitious both in terms of effects and deadlines. Additionally, the recurring cost was considered as a critical factor, requiring the selected solution to be more cost-effective than the current armaments in use. The selection of these two complementary projects enables AID and DGA to explore various technological and operational approaches simultaneously. This approach ensures a comprehensive response to the needs expressed by the armed forces. MBDA’s project aims to develop a compact drone weighing around ten kilograms, featuring deployable wings. This design facilitates easy transportation and deployment, making it suitable for use in scenarios where compactness is essential.
The project proposed by NEXTER, EOS, and TRAAK focuses on the development of a surveillance drone weighing approximately ten kilograms, capable of vertical take-off and landing. This drone can operate without GPS signals and offers an endurance of up to three hours. It is designed for long-term monitoring applications, even in environments where GPS signals may be unreliable or unavailable. Both projects incorporate a pyrotechnic charge. The initial demonstrations of these remotely-operated munitions will provide valuable insights into their technical capabilities, operational viability, and safety considerations. The outcomes of these projects will contribute to preparing the Ministry of the Armed Forces for the potential acquisition of these innovative weapons. The Defense Innovation Agency operates under the supervision of the General Delegate for Armaments (DGA) and consolidates the Ministry’s various innovation initiatives.