The French DGA Armament general directorate has signed a contract with Airbus Defence and Space mini unmanned aircraft system (UAS) subsidiary Survey Copter .

Under the contract, the Airbus subsidiary will provide the French Navy with 11 systems, (22 aircraft), of the electrically powered fixed-wing Aliaca maritime version UAS.

It will also provide training and integrated logistic support. Airbus noted that first deliveries of the UAS are expected this year.

Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems Survey Copter head Nicolas Askamp said: “We are honoured to contribute to the missions of the French Navy which we will support with the highest standards of quality and reliability.

“This new contract strengthens SURVEY Copter’s position as a global key player for maritime mini UAS.”

Launched by catapult, Aliaca maritime version UAS is a high endurance system that allows up to 180-minute missions over a 50km range.

This UAS concludes its flight by landing automatically with the help of a ‘dedicated net landing solution’.

The system can be deployed easily in less than 15 minutes by not more than two operators.

It is designed to conduct missions around the ships and gain tactical situation understanding, control of illegal operations at sea, as well as track any suspicious behaviour.

The system enables vessels that are not equipped with aerial assets to enhance their tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, support decision-making and reactivity in operations.

According to Airbus, the Aliaca maritime UAS can easily be integrated on board any vessel, ‘with or without helicopter landing-deck’.