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Airbus Defence and Space mini UAS subsidiary SURVEY Copter has signed a contract with the French DGA to provide the French Navy with 11 systems (22 aircraft) of the electrically powered fixed-wing ALIACA UAS (maritime version). Officially called “Systèmes de Mini Drones aériens embarqués pour la Marine” by the French authorities), the first deliveries are expected in 2021 and including training with integrated logistic support.

The ALIACA is a high endurance versatile system allowing up to three hour missions over a 50 km (27 Nm) range. It is perfectly adapted to maritime missions with high gyro stabilised EO/IR payload performances and qualified to operate in severe environmental conditions. Launched by catapult, the ALIACA concludes its flight by landing automatically using a dedicated net landing solution. With a length of 2,2m and a wingspan of 3,6m for a maximum take-off weight of 16 kg, the ALIACA benefits from a powerful yet silent electric motor. The system can be deployed easily and rapidly in less than 15 minutes by two operators only.


Similarly, the “user-friendly” ground control station enables the operator to constantly monitor the automatic flight of the UAS while receiving in real-time day and night images and Automatic Identification System data gathered by its on-board sensors.

It is designed to conduct several types of missions around ships, including:

  • increasing the understanding of the tactical situation
  • control of illegal operations at sea
  • search-and-rescue
  • traffic monitoring
  • pollution detection
  • tracking of any suspicious behaviour
  • coastal surveillance.

This light on-board aerial solution gives the opportunity for vessels, traditionally not equipped with aerial assets, to enhance their tactical ISR capabilities and support decision making. Its small logistic footprint enables operations and storage on board smaller ships while integration does not require heavy on-board modification or storage of specific fuel.

Jack Richardson