French company Parrot has won the tenders issued by French DGA (Directorate General of Armaments) to equip the three armies with UAVs. About a hundred systems are ordered (300 UAVs.)
Parrot and the DGA announced today, Monday 11 January, an order for 150 ANAFI USA UAV systems, about 300 UAVs, to equip the French armed forces. Following a call for tenders issued by the DGA last February, this framework contract won by the French company will equip the armies with micro-UAVs for observation and reconnaissance missions. While the delivery of the first systems is expected in June 2021, the distribution of the 150 systems has been specified by the DGA : 60% for Ground forces, ( 90 systems), 12% to the Air and Space Forces, (18 systems), and 28% to the Navy, (42 systems).
The contract between DGA and Parrot is a five-year framework contract that will initially cover the delivery of the UAV systems and the training of the reference pilots and first users. An option is also included for additional equipment and the development of adaptations according to the needs expressed by the forces. "Parrot hopes that by using it, the Army will meet increasingly technological demands. Based on RETEX (French term for ‘feedback’), we could make the drones evolve," says Henri Seydoux, CEO and founder of Parrot, in an interview with Air&Cosmos.
Observation and recognition.
Acquired in order to reinforce the means of observation and reconnaissance of the troops, ANAFI USA has a very powerful optical sensor. It is based on two 21-megapixel 4K cameras and a FLIR Boson thermal camera. The UAV's optical sensor enables "the detection of man-sized targets [...] up to 2 km away, with a precision of 13 cm of detail", explains the manufacturer. The UAV can thus observe the details of a small target while remaining at a distance.
This 500-gram quadricopter therefore has day and night observation capabilities and a flight autonomy of 32 minutes. Rapidly deployable (less than one minute), it is also characterised by its acoustic discretion, a strong point for the conduct of military operations. Parrot points out that its UAV has a "sound signature of 79 dB at a distance of one metre, and is inaudible at a distance of 130 metres".
The UAV to be delivered to the French armed forces therefore corresponds to the ANAFI USA, developed as part of the US Department of Defense's SSR program. It already has several users around the world and is used by police forces, fire brigades and coastguards. By virtue of its use in an operational environment, ANAFI USA has been designed to meet the requirements of the field while guaranteeing the security of the system, a major issue at a time when DJI's Chinese drones are being pointed at. "Securing the link, securing the data, securing the firmware [editor's note: computer programme; software integrated into a system]: it meets the most demanding cyber standards," stresses Parrot. The UAV's software is also secured to prevent hacking and all data is stored on the ground, in the pilot station, and not within the vector.
Developed in France, ANAFI USA is produced in the United States, in the factories of Parrot's partner NEOTech, based in Massachusetts. "By taking the gamble of developing the ANAFI platform, designed for the general public, robust for the needs of professionals, and secure for the requirements of the armed forces, we have taken an important step for the group", Henri Seydoux is pleased to say. Numerous applications are possible with ANAFI USA and this UAV can be used for a variety of missions. "The major technical issue remains the UAV's complete autonomy. We are capable of making drones that could enter a building through a window, explore its interior and make a 3D representation of it. ANAFI USA is capable of making an indoor flight without GPS, or even taking off indoors and going outdoors," adds Henri Seydoux.
A complete dossier, dedicated to the ANAFI USA UAV and this contract with the French armies, is available in January, in Air&Cosmos.