Israeli-French Joint Venture Targets tactical UAVs

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An Israeli-French  joint venture to be established by early 2011 will focus on tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). A principal agreement on the move was signed today as a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the French defense company Sagem Defense Securite and Israel’s Elbit Systems.
The two companies will establish a jointly owned French corporation, to be located in Eragny and Montluçon in France and owned by the two companies in equal shares. The new company’s portfolio will comprise newly developed products, as well as current and derivative products, from Sagem and Elbit Systems. The new venture will target the French market and specific international markets, in which existing initiatives will continue through the JV. The new company will be formed by the equal contributions of assets from the two parent companies.

Sagem is the leading French developer and manufacturer of UAS. Two of the company’s products are the Sperwer Mk II tactical UAS and its derivatives, and the Patroller, a new medium altitude, long endurance drone.

Elbit Systems has a wide range of tactical UAS, from the lightweight Skylark 1LE and Skylark II, to the Hermes 90, and Hermes 450 which has already been considered by the French Army. A larger platform, Hermes 900 was recently added to the product line. Elbit Systems has an ongoing cooperation with Thales, for joint development, marketing and support of UAS. Thales is leading the Watchkeeper program in the UK, providing tactical UAS for the British Army. Development, production and support of these systems is provided by U-TACS, a JV established by the two companies, similar to the one Elbit is launching with Sagem.

Apart from their parallel UAS business lines, the two companies have also competing activities in the fields of electro-optical payloads, soldier systems, thermal imagers and and target acquisition systems.