The Thales Spy'Ranger is a classified as a "mini-UAV" dedicated to the Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) role over the battlefield. It is designed as a forward-operating solution to provide ground-commanders with the needed "eye-in-the-sky", delivering real-time information when and where it is needed most through a versatile, robust design operating in both day and night time hours. Beyond this, the air system has obvious uses as an artillery-direction platform and in humanitarian operations.
Design of this UAV is conventional with the main components housed in a hardened streamlined body. The optics set is seated at the "chin" position under the fuselage nose, offering an unobstructed view of the terrain below, with the engine buried aft within the housing. The electric drive is used to power a two-bladed propeller unit in "pusher" arrangement at the rear of the fuselage. A support stem originates from the lower fuselage and is capped at the extreme aft-end of the vehicle with a single-rudder fin straddled by a pair of horizontal tailplanes. The mainplanes are seated at shoulder-height along the sides of the fuselage and are of straight design with rounded tips.
The series benefits from quick set-up times in-the-field, the UAV deployable within a twenty-minute window. A single solider can manage arrangement and launching of the complete system, such is its portability. Launched via rail assembly, the drone can reach speeds between 65 and 90 kmh, depending on variant in play, with the electric engine providing for much quieter performance and lower-maintenance commitment. The onboard optics set includes full HD video/IR feeds and a laser rangefinder. An autonomous function is built into the Spy'Ranger's design as is a secure high-rate datalink. If the link is lost for whatever reason, the aircraft automatically returns to a preset point for retrieval. Manual operation is through a conventional Ground Control Station (GCS) - the "Spy'C" - which affords two-system linking to a single GCS. The operator can enter the needed waypoints and the aircraft element, once airborne, flies to the designated locations as needed, complete with terrain avoidance capabilities.
Two versions of the Spy'Ranger are currently marketed; the Model 330 and Model 550 series. The Model 330 is the basic, portable form featuring a 4 meter wingspan, 15 kilogram payload capacity, 3 hour flight time, and 30 kilometer operating range. The Model 550 increases the wingspan to 5.2 meters, the payload capacity to 25 kilograms, flight time to 5 hours, and operational ranges out to 50 kilometers.
The Spy'Ranger has seen active service with French forces (Spy'Ranger 330 variant) battling internal unrest across Mali throughout 2020.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
Design incorporates rear-facing pusher-prop arrangement, a contrast to the more conventional puller-prop layout.
Design utilizes an all-electric powerplant for drive power.
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.
14.8 ft (4.50 m)
17.1 ft (5.20 m)
55 lb (25 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the SpyRanger 550 production variant)
monoplane / shoulder-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper section of the fuselage, generally at the imaginary line intersecting the pilot's shoulders.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the SpyRanger 550 production variant)
1 x Electric Engine driving two-bladed propeller unit in pusher arrangement.
None. Payload limited to equipment for the ISR (Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance) role.
Spy'Ranger - Base Series Name.
Spy'Ranger 330 - Base design with 15 kg payload capacity; 30km operational range.
Spy'Ranger 550 - Dimensionally larger with 25 kg payload capacity; 50km operational range.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Image from official Thales Group marketing materials.
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