Aerial Warfare

French Defence Procurement Agency Orders 15 Additional Aliaca Mini-UAS from Survey Copter

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French Defence Procurement Agency Orders 15 Additional Aliaca Mini-UAS from Survey Copter

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French Defence Procurement Agency Orders 15 Additional Aliaca Mini-UAS from Survey Copter
French Defence Procurement Agency Orders 15 Additional Aliaca Mini-UAS from Survey Copter

As part of the SMDM (“Systèmes de Mini Drones aériens embarqués de la Marine”) contract, Survey Copter, an SME and Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary, expert in the design, production and operational support of light tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS), has signed an additional firm order with the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to supply the French Navy with 15 onboard systems (30 aircraft) of Aliaca fixed-wing electric UAS, plus associated training and integrated logistics support. These new systems will be delivered from 2024 onwards, and will be used to equip new ships and ship types, and to enhance their onboard capabilities. This additional order is part of the SMDM contract signed in 2020 with the DGA, which covered the initial supply of 11 systems (22 aircraft), associated training and integrated logistical support, intended to equip a first typology of vessels such as the high seas patrol boats (PHM), the new overseas patrol boats (POM) and the surveillance frigates (FS).

“We are very honoured to participate in the French government’s action at sea, and to continue supporting the French Navy in its many missions. This additional order confirms the relationship of trust we have with the DGA and the French Navy, and the quality, efficiency and reliability of our drones systems at sea,” says Christophe Canguilhem, CEO of Survey Copter.

 Aliaca light tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS)
Aliaca light tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS). (Photo by Survey Copter)

Certified and qualified by the DGA, and operational since 2022 as the French Navy’s “remote field glasses”, SMDM currently integrates and equips PHM, POM and FS to reinforce airborne surveillance, detection and identification capabilities. Embedded, the system can carry out various types of missions around ships, such as tactical situation awareness, combating illegal activities at sea, traffic surveillance, pollution detection, monitoring suspicious behavior in the vicinity of the ship, and coastal surveillance. Since 2022, the SMDM has been deployed and operated in a number of successful missions and exercises. It has been deployed as part of the Corymbe mission in the Gulf of Guinea, in the fight against piracy and illicit trafficking; as part of the European Union’s EUNAVFORMED “IRINI” operation, a mission to monitor the United Nations embargo on arms imports to Libya; and in the Pacific to respond to threats to local communities, particularly in the fight against illegal fishing and trafficking. Since September 4, 2023, the SMDM system has also been used in a coastal configuration to support search and rescue operations in the English Channel, led by the Gris-Nez (Nord-Pas-de-Calais) regional surveillance and rescue center (CROSS).
The experience acquired and the success of the SMDM in these different missions, thanks to its small logistical footprint, ease of use and discretion, led the DGA and the French Navy to order 15 additional systems to reinforce the State’s action at sea and extend its scope of intervention.

Based in the Drôme region of France, Survey Copter has been an expert in light tactical UAS since 1996. An Airbus subsidiary since 2011, the company offers a wide range of products perfectly suited to ISR, protection or surveillance missions, for both military and civilian purposes. In 2023, the company’s turnover was €10 million. Survey Copter draws on a wide range of skills, such as the development of systems for airborne platforms, ground stations, autopilots, EO/IR payloads, expertise in data transmission, encryption and RVT (Remote Video Terminal), and offers a range of services including spare parts, training and operational maintenance. This know-how, demonstrated through the certification of its systems, enables Survey Copter to offer its customers safe, innovative UAS that meet their various needs and constraints.

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