France orders more DRAC mini-drones from Cassidian


France’s military procurement agency DGA has ordered more DRAC reconnaissance drones for the French Army, for delivery before 2013. It did not say how many were ordered.

On Friday the DGA announced it had notified Cassidian, which is part of the EADS group, of an order for an unspecified number of DRAC (Drone de renseignement au contact) systems for the French Army. The order will complete a December 2004 contract.

So far, 60 DRAC drones have been delivered to the French Army and some of these have been deployed to Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission since October 2010.
“The deliveries will be spread out between the summer of 2011 and the start of 2013,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The order includes ground stations as well as the vehicles themselves. The DRAC system comprises two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with electro-optical/infrared cameras, a compact ground station and automatic tracking antenna. All this can be packed into two personal rucksacks, allowing autonomous missions, Cassidian says. The hand launchable vehicles have a range of 90 minutes/10 km and can operate by day and night.

The DRAC miniature UAV system was developed for the French Army by Cassidian together with SurveyCopter. It was granted type certification by French airworthiness authorities in 2010 and is currently the only miniature UAV in France to have achieved such certification, according to Cassidian.
“We are very proud to have won this new order which is a pledge of the DGA’s and French Army’s renewed confidence in us,” said Nicolas Chamussy, Senior Vice President of Cassidian Air Systems and Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems. “This contract is a demonstration of the recognised reliability and qualities of the DRAC system in service with operational Army units in Afghanistan. The feedback of experience from field operations has enabled us, thanks to the close collaboration with our customer, to continue to significantly improve the performance of this mini-UAV which is confirming its position as one of the most robust available, under the severe environmental and operating conditions encountered.”