French Navy tests new VTOL drone on amphibious assault ship: video

Ministère des Armées

The French Navy and the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) conducted an evaluation of a new drone on board an amphibious helicopter carrier on February 19, 2024.  

The drone was developed by a French company called Delair and is known as the DT46. This drone can be configured as a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) version or a fixed-wing version that requires a catapult to take off.  

Sébastien Lecornu, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, shared a video of the test on X (formerly Twitter), stating that the experiment with these 100% French-made drones was successful.  

According to the specifications shared on Delair’s website, the DT46 drone has a wingspan of 4.5 meters and a length of two meters. Both versions can operate in temperatures ranging from -15 °C to +50°C, with a maximum wind of 35 knots. They both have a deployment time of 15 minutes and can carry a payload of up to five kilograms. 

The VTOL version of the DT46 drone can take off and land automatically within a 20-square-meter area, making it ideal for use in limited space, such as the deck of a warship. It has an endurance of up to three hours and 30 minutes.  

On the other hand, the fixed-wing version of the DT46 drone has an endurance of up to seven hours, making it more suitable for more extended missions. 

Delair claims that its communication range is 100 kilometers and fully encrypted. The DT46 drone can carry different sensors, including an optronic ball, a LIDAR, and an international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) catcher. 

Apart from the DT46 drone, the French Navy has also worked on another advanced aerial drone system: the SDAM demonstrator (Système de Drone Aérien Marine/Naval Aerial Drone System). Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group have collaborated to develop and test this system aboard a multi-mission frigate (FREMM). The trials were successful and demonstrated the system’s potential for naval operations. 

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