The various wars of the early 2000s presented warplanners with a need for more-capable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and this ultimately led to considerable growth of a what was really already a veteran industry (unmanned systems were used in warfare as early as 1849 in Austria). As a result, there emerged a plethora of global players hoping to make their presence felt in the realm of unmanned aircraft systems, drones and autonomous flight.
The French-originated SAGEM "Patroller" is a part of this UAV explosion, born from the two-seat Stemme ASP 515 powered glider. The Patroller removes the need for physical human pilots but retains all of the form and function of the glider resulting in a very useful, logistically-friendly unmanned system for both civil and military markets. The system is approved for such mission types as Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), artillery spotting, peacekeeping/humanitarian aid and border protection. The mission payload exceeds 250 kilograms.
The Patroller is detailed as a tactical-level UAV and features a scalable architecture to better integrate with existing air command systems. A "see and avoid" module allow it to function in civilian airspace. The aircraft has been developed with inherent low-noise qualities as well as a reduced radar and heat signature to better operate in battle zones. Autonomous flight is possible and both landing and take-off actions can be handled automatically (as well as taxiing). As such, the aircraft can use traditional prepared runways.
Externally, the aircraft sports a tear-drop-like shape for its fuselage in which the forward section is noticeably bulbous. It houses the powerplant which includes a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose. The optics fit sits under the belly with a complete 360-degree view of the action under the aircraft. A tricycle undercarriage is featured. The wing mainplanes are straight and high-mounted along the fuselage sides, each underwing point able to carry a pod. The empennage begins at the rear of the fuselage and runs to the single tail fin which mounts the horizontal stabilizer.
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