The French forces have received three new SDTI drones, the new production units were ordered in August 2009 under as part of a € 5 million contract. The new SDTI model uses redesigned, lighter wings improving the drone’s performance operating from high elevations and at high temperatures.
The SDTI was inducted to French Army service with the 61th Artillery Regiment (Chaumont) in 2004. After 10 deploying to Kosovo for months in 2007, the regiment has deployed to the Tora Surobi forward operating base in Afghanistan where it is stationed since October 2008.
While the French Army is operating the SDTI, the Special Forces are been equipped with mini and micro UAVs to enhance situational awareness, force protection and target acquisition. In recent months the command has fielded the AeroVironment Wasp micro UAVs augmenting the Elbit Systems Skylark 1 mini-UAV in service with French special forces since 2008. The hand-launched Wasp provides the SF teams with more autonomy, supporting missions characterized by short duration and close range.
In addition to these tactical UAV assets, the French Air Force is also operating three Heron type medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs in Afghanistan.