DGA Orders the System of Mini Drones for Reconnaissance (SMDR)
(Source: French defense procurement agency, DGA; issued Jan 05, 2017)
(Issued in French only; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
The Thales SpyDrone developed for the French Army can be set up and launched in 12 minutes by its two-man operating team, and can transmit high-resolution video streams in real time. It is seen here mounted on its launcher. (Thales photo)
On 21 December 2016, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) awarded Thales a contract for the System of Mini-Drones for Reconnaissance drones. The SMDR is intended to equip the forces, and in particular to replace the Drone de Renseignement Au Contact (Front Line Reconnaissance Drone, or DRAC) system in service with the French Army since 2008.

The contract includes a firm order for 35 systems. The first systems will be delivered by 2019 and will be supported for 10 years.

An operational system consists of three Spy'Ranger drones equipped with a high-definition day / night optronic ball, providing detection / recognition / identification performance that, until now, was reserved for the upper segment.

With a wingspan of nearly 3.80 meters and a weight of 14.5 kg, the new drone has an endurance of the order of 2.5 hours. The system can be deployed in 12 minutes by two operators (installation of the launcher, assembly of the drone, initialization of the ground station and testing before takeoff).

Thanks to its data link from the ELSA * technology study, the drone can transmit high-resolution video streams in real time, reliably and securely at distances of up to 30 km from the ground station.

Thales has developed the Spy'Ranger in partnership with two French SMEs: Aviation Design (air vehicle) and Merio (optronic ball).


* ELSA: Design and demonstration of a universal data link for autonomous air-land systems

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Thales to Equip the French Forces with Spy'Ranger Mini Reconnaissance UAVs
(Source: Thales; issued Jan 05, 2017)
Thales’s latest-generation Spy’Ranger mini surveillance and reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been chosen by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip the French forces. Up to 70 mini-UAV reconnaissance systems (SMDR) will be made available from 2018.

The Armed forces require real-time access to ever more reliable imagery. Spy’Ranger will provide them with a decisive tactical advantage by offering the capacity to observe day or night, for long periods of time and at a distance of up to 30 km.

Each system consists of three mini-UAVs, a ground segment and the associated technical support. Starting in 2018, Thales will provide French forces up to 210 mini reconnaissance UAVs.

The Spy’Ranger is the new ‘eye in the sky’ for the combined arms tactical group, able to be operated in a standalone mode or connected to a C4I system.

The Spy’Ranger is specifically tailored to the needs of the Armed forces, as well as to those of essential operators.

Spy’Ranger is used in particular to carry out the following missions: provide support to a combined arms tactical group maneuver or to an offensive reconnaissance mission; provide a cover mechanism, support the neutralisation of strong points and contribute to firing maneuvers by providing a “remote airborne eye” able to adjust shooting rounds on a target.

"Developed by Thales in cooperation with French SMEs Aviation Design and Merio in under 13 months, Spy’Ranger will offer French Forces a number of innovations that provide real capability gains. Spy’Ranger will therefore markedly contribute to the gathering of frontline intelligence and to the protection of forces in operation," said Jean-Pascal Arrou-Vignod, Thales VP in charge of Optronics business.

The Spy’Ranger, developed by Thales in collaboration with several French SMEs, is a mini-UAV designed and manufactured in France. Spy'Ranger packs state-of-the-art technologies that provide much better performance:

 Transportable in a backpack, Spy’Ranger can perform observation missions over a period of 2 hours 30 minutes, covering a range of 30 km: a much larger surveillance area than those covered by systems currently in service;

 Its gyrostabilized multi-sensor optronic payload has the highest resolution in the world for this range of platform, facilitating the positive identification of zones or objects over which it has flown;

 Its tactical data link, protected to the highest standard, offers high speeds allowing the transmission of a high-definition image streams;

 Its command and control software (C2) provides an effective user interface;

 A mobile and digital support management system, based on Thales’s Smartfleet solution, that enables efficient execution and piloting of the Through Life Support’s.

Fully adapted to frontline air-land intelligence missions in battlefields in hostile environments (climate, electromagnetic, physical, etc.), the Spy’Ranger has been designed to optimise life cycle costs.


Thales is strengthening its position as the European leader in the drone sector by offering complete systems, covering all sectors, micro-drones, mini-drones and tactical drones, as well as on-board sensors, communication means and ground control stations.


Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defence and Security markets. With 62,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €14 billion in 2015. With 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design and deploy equipment, systems and services to meet the most complex security requirements. Its exceptional international footprint allows it to work closely with its customers all over the world.

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