Drones at the 2013 Paris Air Show: Sagem welcomes the 61st French Artillery Regiment

Sagem (Safran) and the 61st French Artillery Regiment have organized a joint celebration at the 2013 Paris Air Show of the publication of a book recounting the history of drones in the French army.

Sagem supported this initiative by the regiment, which decided last year to share its history and expertise through the book "61ème Régiment d'Artillerie, les drones et l'imagerie de l'armée de Terre" ("The 61st Artillery Regiment, Drones and Imaging in the French Army"), published by Editions Crépin Leblon. During a very relaxed meeting at the Safran hospitality chalet, representatives of the 61st Artillery Regiment handed a copy of this book to Frédéric Mazzanti, director of Sagem's Optronics and Defense division. The book spotlights the major role played by Sagem's own Sperwer tactical drone in the French army's drone systems deployed by the 61st Artillery Regiment.

The regiment earned the red badge of the Legion of Honor during combat in 1914, at the beginning of the First World War. During the 1970s, it was on the cutting edge of military technology, as it deployed the French army's first tactical drone, the CL-89, followed by the CL-289 and the Sagem Crecerelle in the 1990s. The Sperwer drone system entered service with the 61st Artillery Regiment in 2004, considerably boosting the capabilities of the French army. The regiment deployed in Afghanistan in 2008, and the Sperwer drones were assigned a wide range of missions, including protection, convoy escort, IED search and artillery fire control. They carried out hundreds of sorties, saving the lives of French soldiers. The book clearly shows that the 61st Artillery Regiment is a highly professional fighting force that can fully capitalize on the capabilities of this high-performance intelligence system.

During the ceremony at the Safran chalet, Frédéric Mazzanti emphasized the opportunities that Sagem wants to seize in the booming drone market: "Sagem is very proud of providing the Sperwer drone system to the 61st. Remember that Sagem developed the Sperwer using its own funds. After Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, France also opted for the Sperwer drone, followed by Canada and Greece. Based on Sperwer, Sagem has developed a very competitive offering in the high-performance tactical drone segment. We learned quite a bit from the nine years of Sperwer deployment in Afghanistan under Dutch, Canadian and French colors. Today, building on this experience, Sagem can meet armies' evolving requirements. For instance, we are now developing Patroller, a long-endurance tactical drone that should take over for Sperwer. Developed in France, the Patroller drone could incorporate several Sagem innovations, including navigation systems based on hemispherical resonant gyros, and a new generation of optronic pods."

To date, Sagem has produced 140 Sperwer drones and 25 complete systems for six countries. About 100 people in the company are working on this program, including Eragny for R&D, Montluçon for drone manufacture and systems integration, Dijon for the production of Euroflir optronics pods, and Fougères in Brittany for the printed circuit boards.

The Patroller system on display at the Paris Air Show is fitted with a multi-sensor payload combining a Sagem Euroflir 410 pod, a pod for communications intelligence (Comint), an AIS transponder (to monitor maritime traffic), and an emergency beacon detector. The Patroller drone and its ground control station are on display in the static exhibition area (ST 59).

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