Air and Space Force’s “VADOR” light reconnaissance aircraft finally announced

The 54th Airborne Electronic Squadron 1/54 delivered to “Dunkirk” in 2020, with two delays, the first two light surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft [ALSR] “VADER” [pour « Vecteur aéroporté de désignation, d’observation et de reconnaissance »] After a year of testing under the supervision of the ISR brand team at the Military Air Expertise Center, it should have been declared operational in the summer of 2021. [CEAM]. Only, nothing happened.

Indeed, according to data from Air & Cosmos, the Star Sapphire Optronic Ball, supplied by American group Teledine Technologies Inc., through its partner FLIR system, did not meet expectations, leaving their image quality more desirable than others. Systems, such as the Wescam MX-20, which are equipped, for example, with the French Navy’s Atlantic 2.

The choice of the Star Sapphire Optronic Ball is guided by budget requirements … However, cost savings are always expensive. Because, obviously, these inefficient systems needed to be replaced with better quality …

However, and at a time when 1/54 Dunkerque was about to be disconnected from its two Transall C-160 Gabriel electronic intelligence aircraft, the withdrawal from service was withdrawn against all odds. [c’est à dire sans attendre les Falcon Archange, ndlr], These two VADOR have been declared effective. Is it really Joel Barre, General Delegate of Armament? [DGA]At a recent Senate hearing [le compte-rendu vient d’être publié, nldr].

“We have taken swift action, especially for light surveillance and the deployment of reconnaissance aircraft, for the benefit of our forces,” he said. The first two planes were put into operational service last March, “Mr Barre said.

As a reminder, the ALSR program was notified to Thales and Sabena Techniques in 2016, the two manufacturers responsible for installing sensors to collect intelligence from electromagnetic sources. [ROEM] And the original image intelligence [ROIM] Two Beechcraft above the King Air 350. Six more units will be delivered to the Air and Space Force by 2030.

In addition to the VADORs, Mr. Barry further indicated that the DGA “accelerated the in-flight acceptance of space electromagnetic intelligence capabilities. [CERES], Launched in late 2021, is being used for the first time. ” And to add: “Our intelligence services have already been able to take advantage of the first capabilities of these satellites.”

The CERES constellation consists of three satellites, launched into orbit by a Vega rocket on 16 November. Their goal is to collect data to identify and identify transmitters [radars, télécommunications, etc]. Their commission was not expected soon.

In addition, Mr Barre spoke of “urgent operations” to provide French forces with the “necessary capabilities to deal with the conflict in Ukraine”. Among them he mentioned the AR-LAD method [adaptation réactive pour la lutte anti-drones]Which was created by the technical department of the army [STAT].

“The challenge is to equip the vehicles with armored front [VAB] An anti-drone detection radar and an impact capable of destroying drones – a 12.7 mm machine gun – are also planned to have grenade launching capabilities, “the DGA explained.

The concept of STAT for equipping an “AR-LAD” VAB with an “airbast” capability is to combine a radar with a grenade launcher. Apparently, the grenade exploded about two meters away from a drone, hitting it with a shrapnel and dropping it. This type of device can be especially effective against swarms of drones.

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