Where is the French Drone Programme Going?

Defence Industry Daily describes the situation in the French drone programme here.

Essentially, the French have a number of programmes possible but do not to have a clear picture of future needs.

Harfang, the EADS/IAI clone of the Heron TP drone has been built and deployed in Afghanistan, in a programme plagued with problems and delays.

France could also take on UK Watchkeeper drones, from the rival Israeli drones manufacturer Elbit Systems, and its French partner. The Watchkeeper is due for deployment in 2011.

Or the French could buy US MK-9 Reaper drones, which have higher capacity and are much easier to arm and more flexible with armaments.

Defence Industry Daily claims that the French will buy 65-70 medium drones with the decision to be made in 2011.

They could also chose the BAE Mantis produced by their British ally. Or the Talarion, a European collaboration between France, Spain, and Germany which seem increasingly unlikely to be selected. Talarion is a jet powered drone at an early stage of development.

DI Daily also suggest that SAGEM (French arms company) is developing additional drones and there is one under development by Dassault/Thales.

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