On October 15th the French Air and Space Army has shown its first designation, observation and reconnaissance aircraft also known as VADOR.
Vador for Dunkerque squadron 1/54
French Air and Space Army had briefly delivered a photo of it in Air Actualités at the beginning of August. On October 15, at Evreux, the French Air and Space Forces unveiled to IHEDN auditors and Army War College trainees its first Airborne Designation, Observation and Reconnaissance Vector (VADOR). A nice acronym, but above all a nod to the first ISR aircraft, rented from CAE Aviation, whose name refers to another Star Wars character. A second aircraft will be delivered at the end of November to the DGA (French Defence Procurement Agency), before being received like the first one by the 1/54 Dunkirk airborne electronic squadron, located in Evreux.
On-board targeting capability
According to the unit members crossed by Air & Cosmos in Evreux, the device meets the need, with a Flir EO/IR System, Thales interception electronics, and a Satcom Eclipse Global Connectivity transmission system. The ground and airborne mission consoles use Thales' Amascos technology, originally developed for mission aircraft, particularly for maritime surveillance and patrol. Unlike current ISR aircraft deployed in operational areas, onboard targeting capability will be available. This will be one of the co-pilot's missions. The third Vador known as the "ACAS" (additional ALSR- reconnaissance and surveillance light aircraft- acquisition, as part of last June's recovery plan) will be standard 2, which will include a Thales’s SAR/GMTI.
Commissioning in summer 2021
The latter will undoubtedly have benefited from the model integrated into the Watchkeeper UAV sold to the British Army. The target is eight VADOR aircraft by 2030. Two others are already announced for 2026. The first VADOR is scheduled to enter into service in the summer of 2021. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that the aircraft will be used for Opex (Military overseas operations) by then. A first operational capacity is expected in February. Staff training on the new system is being stepped up. The first were trained on aircraft leased by the French Air Force to the private sector starting in 2017, before serving in operational areas. Half a dozen five-man crews (three in the rear, two for flight) would already be operational.