To say that France, and Europe in general, lacked a sense of the arrival of drones, and in particular Medium Altitude Long Endurance or MALE combat drones, such as the MQ1 Predator, the MQ9 Reaper, or Turkish Bayraktar's TB2, would be a profound understatement. Not only did they all have to equip themselves abroad, near the United States for the vast majority of cases, but they still remain today unable to agree on the functionalities and financing of the Eurodrone program, which is likely to see the light of day even thougha new generation of combat drones, much more efficient than that currently in service, will begin to equip the American and Chinese armies.
These new generation drones, which will enter service in the second half of the decade 2020 to replace the American Reaper or Chinese Wing loong, will indeed combine the great autonomy and carrying capacities of current MALE drones, at stealth and speed prototypes of combat drones like the X-47 or the Sharp Sword. Lighter and less expensive than heavy drones like the Russian S70 Okhotnik B or the US Navy's MQ25 Stingray, they will allow surveillance and strike operations even in highly contested environments. In addition, with cruising speeds of the order of Mach 0,8 and a range of 40 hours as at present, they will offer a much wider range of action, and greatly reduced transit times, making it possible to deploy them from more distant bases.
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