The Sagem-developed Patroller long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) has successfully carried out its third series of test flights at the Cergy-Pontoise Airfield in the greater Paris area.

During the tests, the medium-altitude UAV, which was equipped with external tanks, demonstrated the performance of its triplex avionics and its imaging system, comprising a Sagem Euroflir gyrostabilised optronics pod and a Ku-band link.

Flight tests also validated the aircraft’s operation in manned mode, which allows pilots to carry out missions in unrestricted airspace.

A new series of unmanned flight tests for the UAV in restricted airspace is scheduled to begin in June at the Istres Air Base in south-west France.

The Patroller drone could start demonstration flights and operational trials by mid 2010, while the first fully operational Patroller system is expected to be delivered in 12 to 18 months for operations in Afghanistan.

French armed forces will use the Patroller for long-endurance surveillance missions, and border patrol and coastal surveillance operations.

Patroller is a 1t UAV, based on the S15 special-mission aircraft developed by German partner Stemme, with a top speed of 162kt and payload capacity of 250kg.