The French Defense Innovation Agency (AID) has narrowed its list of contenders to two consortia for a loitering munition project announced last year.

The AID has chosen MBDA/NOVADEM and Nexter and a French drone company for the Colibri (hummingbird) project from a list of 19 contenders.

The first demonstrations are expected at the end of the year.

“They will provide knowledge of the capabilities of these types of solutions from a technical and operational point of view, as well as aspects relating to the safety of deployment,” the AID stated.

Proposals

The MBDA/NOVADEM proposal is based on a maneuverable rotary-wing drone, primarily for urban or less-open environments.

The endurance-friendly second proposal aims to adapt a fixed-wing surveillance drone for open and larger environments.

The drone should have a minimum endurance of 30 minutes, a range of 5 kilometers (3 miles), and should cost less than 20,000 euros ($22,000). 

Ukraine Lessons

French defense minister Sébastien Lecornu told Le Figaro last month that the French Army needs “at least 1,800” low-cost remotely-controlled loitering munitions.

Breaking Defense quoted Lecornu as telling French lawmakers that France had “fallen behind” in developing the loitering munitions.

He added that the country plans to have “thousands” of these types of munitions by 2030. “That’s part of the lessons learned from Ukraine,” he explained.

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