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Safran Electronics & Defense has announced that the final phase of the Patroller tactical drone’s industrial qualification is underway at the Istres DGA flight test centre in southern France.

The Patroller unmanned system has already completed more than 220 qualification flights that demonstrated automated take-off and landing, mission execution, and simultaneous operation of its sensors in real-time.

In addition, the flights tested Patroller’s electro-optical and radar payloads, low noise levels, endurance, ease of use and availability.

In April 2016, the French Defence Ministry awarded a contract to Safran for the French Army’s tactical drone system (SDT) programme.

Under the contract, the company will supply 14 Patroller tactical real-time surveillance and intelligence drones.

In a statement, Safran said: “During these qualification flights, as well as in previous tests, the Patroller tactical drone has proven its ability to meet the challenges of today’s missions, by guaranteeing the French Army’s technological superiority in theatres of operation, while ensuring low operating costs.”

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By GlobalData

Patroller is designed to carry a multi-sensor intelligence payload of up to 250kg, including electro-optical, radar and electronic warfare. It can operate at altitudes of up to 20,000ft.

The company noted that the drone is set to be soon deployed in support of maritime surveillance operations as part of the European Commission’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) programme.

Safran is expected to deliver the first Patroller tactical drone system to the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) by the end of this year. The system comprises five drones and two ground stations.

The ground station is responsible for mission planning and management, reconnaissance, location-determination, automatic target tracking, real-time intelligence data fusion and distribution, and on-board simulation for training exercises.

The ES-15 airframe for the Patroller system is supplied by German firm Ecarys.