The Drone Index: Sagem Patroller
The Patroller is a French propeller-driven MALE UAV for ISR missions. The development history of the Patroller is a model for cost-effective solutions to build unmanned systems. Rather than spend millions on R&D, the optronics manufacturer Sagem partnered with Stemme, a German manufacturer of gliders and light aircraft.
The Patroller isn’t Sagem’s first UAV, a distinction reserved for the Sperwer, which saw widespread use in Afghanistan. The Patroller fulfilled a need for a larger drone with intermediate range at a time when the General Atomics Predator couldn’t be acquired by France due to export restrictions. (A state of affairs that has now changed.)
The result was a UAV that used a proven airframe with a frontal propeller and retractable tricycle landing gear. The Patroller was unveiled in 2009 and described as a “long-endurance surveillance drone for both defense and security missions.” The Patroller took to the skies for the first time on June 10, 2009, in Finland.
Sagem immediately publicized the Patroller’s performance characteristics, claiming it could fly for up to 30 hours and reach a ceiling of 25,000 feet. The Patroller isn’t configured for attack missions but it can deploy with a 500 pound payload and land autonomously.
Today, however, the Patroller’s characteristics on paper have been slightly revised. According to Sagem, the Patroller’s mission time is 20 hours and its ceiling is 20,000 ft. Its maximum speed is between 150 and 200 kilometers per hour. Range can extend to 500 km.
The Patroller uses a 115 horsepower Rotax 914 F turbo propeller engine, the same as the Israeli Hermes 900 and other European UAVs.
The Patroller underwent additional flight testing from 2010-2011 at a French air base. By 2012, the Patroller was being displayed at regional arms and defense shows.
Since it’s based on a variant of the Stemme S10 high performance glider, the Patroller’s dimensions are similar. (The S10 sells for $400,000 per plane.) Its wingspan is 20 meters (65’7″) and its length is 8.42 meters (27’7″). On a runway, the Patroller is almost 2 meters tall at 5 feet, 11 inches.
The Patroller’s nose blister contains a familiar suite of subsystems, including an FLIR pod, GPS, electro-optic and infra-red sensors, synthetic aperture radar, a laser designator, and extra space for electronic or communications intelligence gathering devices. Two additional hard points on its wings are for sensors.
At present, the Patroller is competing with two other UAV models in a tender from the French military. To entice potential customers, Sagem is offering a patrol, naval, and army variant of the Patroller.
The Patroller is also applicable for civilian use after successful test flights in 2014.