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Survey Copter to Supply 30 Aliaca Drones for French Navy

Airbus segment Survey Copter has secured a contract to deliver 30 Aliaca fixed-wing electric unmanned aerial systems to the French Navy.

The 30-million-euro ($32.3 million) agreement will deliver 15 sets of the onboard setup, each with two Aliaca aircraft and corresponding training and logistics support services for the fleet.

Deliveries of the systems will begin in 2024, from which they will be leveraged to bolster the navy’s “aerial surveillance, detection, and identification capabilities.”

Aliaca Electric Drone

Aliaca is a 16-kilogram (35-pound) aerial drone that can sustain up to 3 hours of autonomous operation and cover a range of 50 kilometers (31 miles).

It launches via a catapult and is recovered automatically with a net. The Aliaca’s complete onboard setup can be integrated into various naval assets, including surveillance frigates, patrol boats, and France’s future projection and command vessels.

Data gathered by the systems are transmittable in real time under day and night conditions.

Aliaca fixed-wing electric unmanned aerial system
Aliaca fixed-wing electric unmanned aerial system. Photo: French Ministry of Defence

“These capabilities… identify buildings at distances greater than radar ranges and to characterize the threat in real time using a video stream,” the French defense procurement agency (DGA) said.

“The [Embedded Mini-Aerial Drone Systems] thus offers the French Navy a real information boost, increasing the efficiency of the ships it equips.”

“Thanks to these performances, the potential for using these tactical drones is wide: identification and taking photos of unknown ships, discreet repositioning of ships of interest, or even searching for shipwrecked people.”

Maintaining Strategic Relationship

The order follows Aliaca’s qualification of anti-illegal activity and maritime surveillance operability under DGA in 2022.

In 2021, the government awarded Survey Copter a contract to supply 11 Aliaca onboard systems (22 aircraft) for the navy.

“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,” Survey Copter CEO Christophe Canguilhem stated.

“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 drone systems at sea.”

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