French Navy Gets New Aerial Capability

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The French Navy has selected a new unmanned aerial vehicle for its ships. The electrically-powered fixed-wing Aliaca maritime version UAV (officially called SMDM) will be supplied to the French Navy, including training and integrated logistic support. First deliveries are expected in 2021.

Aliaca is an ISR, protection, and monitoring solution for military and civilian applications. The long-endurance versatile system allows up to 3 hours missions over a 50 km (27 Nm) range, and is adapted to maritime missions with high gyro-stabilized EO/IR payload performances and qualified to operate in severe environmental conditions. 

11 systems (22 aircraft) will be supplied by Airbus Defense and Space to the French Navy.

Launched by catapult, the Aliaca maritime UAV concludes its flight by landing automatically using a dedicated net landing solution. With a length of 2,2m and a wingspan of 3,6m for a maximum take-off weight of 16 kg, the Aliaca maritime UAV benefits from a powerful yet silent electric motor. The system can be deployed easily and rapidly in less than 15 minutes by 2 operators only.

The ground control station enables the operator to constantly monitor the automatic flight of the UAV while receiving in real-time day and night images and AIS (Automatic Identification System) data gathered by its on-board sensors.

It is designed to conduct several types of missions around the ships, including increasing the understanding of the tactical situation, control of illegal operations at sea, search-and-rescue, traffic monitoring, pollution detection, tracking of any suspicious behavior in the ship environment and coastal surveillance. This light on-board aerial solution gives the opportunity to vessels, traditionally not equipped with aerial assets, to enhance their tactical ISR capabilities, support decision making and reactivity in operations.

The Aliaca maritime UAV can easily be integrated onboard any ships, with or without a helicopter landing-deck, and its low logistic footprint enables operations and storage onboard smaller sized ships. Its integration does not require heavy on-board modification nor storage of specific fuel, according to the company’s announcement.

The UAV is resistant to the corrosive maritime environment, an adapted solution to the electro-magnetic constraints on board.