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Look Out Reaper, Here Comes MALE

France Tests Its First UAV

France test flew its new Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) surveillance UAV for 1.5 hours around Istres, an air base in the southern part of the country, on September 12th.

The MALE, or as the French call it, Systeme Interimaire de Drone MALE (SIDM), is a joint European Aeronautic Defense & Space (EADS) and Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI) product.

In a release, France's head of Defence & Security Systems Herve Guillou said, "The first flight of the SIDM in France is a great success for our highly-qualified project team and another convincing proof of our capabilities in the area of UAV technologies."

Miki Bar, Corporate Vice President & General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group of IAI, said, “The  first flight demonstrates the successful collaboration between EADS and IAI which combined new technologies and leading capabilities in the MALE UAV system."

The MALE, or SIDM if you're French, is designed to conduct day and night reconaisance and intelligence gathering missions, including target acquisition, over a range of approx 700 nm. It's billed as an all-weather-capable aircraft utilizing an anti-icing system.

IAI claims installed equipment includes multi-spectrum sensors, line-of-sight data link technology and full satellite communication capability.

The first successful test flight demonstrated the integrity of the UAV's systems. With 12 more test flights scheduled, the craft is slated to enter service with the French Air Force in 2007.

FMI: www.eads.com, www.iai.co.il

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