Thales launched Spy’Ranger, its latest-generation surveillance and reconnaissance mini-drone at Milipol Paris 2015 last week. The company said the drone is specifically tailored to the needs of armed forces, security forces and essential operators.
With the increase in battlefield anti-drone countermeasures, modern field units need platforms with ever higher security and survivability capabilities to ensure that they are not neutralised during combat operations when the intelligence that the drones gather is most crucial.
Spy’Ranger has been designed by a team of drone developers from both Thales and French aerospace SME, Aviation Design. Its development rests along four technological pillars: a robust and innovative electric powered airframe; the most advanced gimbal in the world to optimise observed frontline and range; the highest tactical datalink standard; and a combat-proven command and control software.
The reason why these technologies are the cornerstone of its development is that combined, they render the Spy’Ranger the most effective surveillance platform in the world, Thales claimed. It is able to maintain combat effectiveness under most adverse conditions and despite most concerted efforts to disrupt operational effectiveness.
The company points to the gimbal as a ‘veritable breakthrough in itself’. Most drones will not be able to maintain sensor equipment on target during sudden and violent manoeuvres. The Spy’Ranger gimbal will maintain the camera and sensor equipment on target even if the aircraft is pushing the manoeuvring limits of its airframe.
This makes it effective under most tactical scenarios, especially when overflying enemy airspace, meaning that whatever the situation, field units will not lose intelligence data during combat.
The tactical datalink is one of the most robust ever deployed on a reconnaissance mini-drone, Thales continued. Communications are secured and encrypted to maintain service availability in jammed conditions and to prevent intrusions into the system. For a unit in the field this level of fidelity is crucial to maintain operational intelligence even in the most difficult operations against well-equipped adversaries.
Finally, the company said that the combat-proven command and control software provides an effective user interface that allows the drone to be operated by a single pilot and with a reduced training phase.
This intermix of technologies is what renders Spy’Ranger the most suitable surveillance drone for modern day battlefields, both for frontline intelligence gathering and security hovering operations, concluded Thales.