Among the lessons learned from the Ukraine war, the preponderant role of reconnaissance drones in the conduct of military operations probably represents, if not the greatest surprise, in any case the most obvious confirmation of the transformations that are now taking place in the field. high-intensity military action. The success of the Ukrainian armies in the face of more numerous and powerfully armed Russian forces is in fact largely based on the perfect integration of a device combining an innovative communication system to coordinate the units deployed with the information reported by different types of drones ranging from MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) light TB2 Bayraktar to commercial light quadcopters modified by Ukrainian operators. In this context, and considering the increasingly extensive surveillance needs that American forces will have to face in the future, interest in very long-range drones has only grown across the Atlantic in recent years.
This is precisely the favorite field of the small American start-up Platform Aerospace based in California, which is none other than the world record holder for flight time for a drone with its Vanilla Unmanned, a drone that held the air for 8 days and 50 minutes having traveled nearly 20.000 km ( i.e. an average speed of 100 km/h) last October. And this record did not go unnoticed by the Pentagon, and in particular by the US Navy, which has contracted with the Californian SME to develop a system with very long autonomy likely to provide unprecedented surveillance capabilities to date, in particular to take on long-duration surveillance missions particularly necessary in the naval field, instead of the more efficient MQ-9 Reaper for strike missions and combat mission, and which must be replaced by the end of the decade by stealth systems.
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