Friday, December 10, 2010

France Launches Espadon Naval Drone Demonstrator

The demonstrator of a naval surface drone was launched at Hennebont (Morbihan on December 8, 2010. It was developed under a basic research contract awarded in July 2009 by DGA to an industry group comprising DCNS, Thales and ECA, and financed by the French government’s economic recovery plan.

The Espadon (swordfish) is an unmanned surface vessel that is 17 meters long and displaces 25 tonnes, and christened Sterenn Du (black star in the local Breton language). In 2011, it will be fitted with a towed array sonar and small submarine drones developed by Thales and ECA respectively.

This “drone-carrying drone” was fabricated by the firm Pech’Alu International, also based in the Morbihan district, under the prime contractorship of DCNS. Detailed blueprints were designed by the Nantes-based HT2 design office.

The goal of this type of unmanned surface vehicle is to conduct minehunting operations over large stretches of the sea, both in the littorals and offshore, without endangering the lives of human crewmen.

Sea trials will be carried out in 2011 and 2012 off the western tip of Brittany on behalf of DGA and the French navy.

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