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Spy’Ranger contact drones, an unrivalled operational experience

Drones are not a recent technology. French armies have used them for some sixty years in various theaters of operation. In current conflicts, whether in Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine or Mali during the French operation Barkhane, drones, and in particular contact drones, have demonstrated their decisive character. 

What are contact UAVs ? 

Used "as close as possible" to the enemy by operators in the various armed forces (Air, Land or Sea), contact drones cover micro UAVs, mini UAVs and small UAVs capable of operating within a few kilometers to over 100 kilometers and weighing between 500 grams and 150 kilos. In the wide criteria of drone warfare requirements, Thales is positioned in contact drones 
Contact UAVs are decisive in protecting forces engaged in contact, who need to be illuminated, informed and supported. Large tactical drones cannot provide the agility that combatants need on the front line to act without delay in rapidly changing combat scenarios. The versality, ubiquity and agility of contact drones provide a decisive advantage. But for smaller drones to deliver their full potential, they must be integrated with other means of air/land combat. At Thales we have the ability to develop new systems with collective intelligence. Leveraging in our experience in drones, UAS management systems, surveillance, and aerial operations but also air defence, we are shaping solutions to really integrate contact drones in the “Air-Land Combat bubble” providing forces with the operational capabilities needed for today or tomorrow’s conflicts.

Contact drones are decisive equipment for OODA loop acceleration 

Spy'Ranger contact UAV systems, developed by Thales, offer a concentration of the most innovative technologies available on the market.
Spy'Ranger UAVs are used for multi-domain intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and protection missions. They are used by the armed forces and security forces of several countries, including the French Army (SMDR programme).
Interoperable with intelligence and artillery systems, Spy'Ranger drones have become the eyes and ears of armed forces in the collaborative combat of the future. They enable forces to accelerate the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) decision loop, i.e. to detect the adversary, anticipate his actions and act before he does.

Spy’Ranger UAV systems are ready for high-intensity combat

High-intensity warfare is characterized by unprecedented violence, significantly increasing the stress levels of combatants and reducing their cognitive abilities. Our systems offer AI-based 'hyper-assistants' to enable combatants to understand the situation faster than the enemy. 
Jamming of communications and GNSS signals is systematically used. That’s why the systems we offer are equipped with the latest innovations in communications, navigation and positioning to be able to survive in the most contested environments. 
Operational superiority in high-intensity combat is the result of a combination of manoeuvres involving dismounted and embarked units supported by contact UAVs and associated loitering munitions (LMs) engaged individually or in packs.

Spy’Ranger UAVs have an unrivalled operational experience 

The Spy'Ranger fixed wing contact drones have proved their worth in combat. As part of the French SMDR (Systèmes de Mini-Drones de Reconnaissance) programme, the Spy'Ranger 330s have carried out numerous missions alongside French forces since the end of 2020, contributing to the success of military operations and protecting soldiers during the French Barkhane operation in Mali.
With more than 2,000 flights and over 2,000 flying hours in overseas operations, the SMDR has accumulated unrivalled experience. After a period of learning and adaptation, the French army has gradually increased the SMDR's objectives, dedicating it to missions involving observation of enemy movements, surveillance of empty zones and routes, detection of enemy fire and Improvised explosive devices (IED),  protection of convoys and disembarked combatants, day/night intelligence, BDA (Battle Damage Assessment) and the provision of coordinates for friendly fire guidance.



Fixed wing and hybrid VTOL/fixed wing contact drones 

Thales offers conventional & regular forces a comprehensive family of front-line fixed wing UAS (Spy’Ranger 330 and 550) and hybrid VTOL/fixed wing UAS (Spy’Ranger X40 and X100).   

The Spy'Ranger X40 and Spy'Ranger X100 benefit directly from developments in the Spy'Ranger 330 and Spy'Ranger 550 UAV systems : robust, lightweight composite and carbon structure, high-definition multi-sensor optronic payloads (EO, IR, laser), high-performance batteries, on-board AI, AI-based edge computing, hyper-assistance, vision-based navigation, secure high-speed data links, ground station and control/command HMI, connectivity and interoperability with intelligence and artillery systems, reduced logistics footprint,…  
The Spy'Ranger X40 and Spy'Ranger X100 are multi-mission, multi-payload UAV systems. They combine image-based intelligence (IMINT) with electromagnetic intelligence (SIGINT). They can fulfil several objectives in a single mission and combine the effects of their payloads for greater effectiveness.*

The Spy'Ranger X40 is a lightweight tactical drone system. Fitted with electric motors for landing, take-off and cruise flight, it has a range of more than 2 hours and a radius of action of more than 40 km, for a very small logistical footprint.
It is natively equipped with 2 payloads: an IMINT payload (Image Intelligence) with a Spy'Ball Mk3 gyrostabilised ball incorporating 1 HD EO (Electro-Optical) sensor (day channel), 1 HD IR (Infra-Red) sensor (night channel), 1 laser pointer and 1 laser telemeter, as well as a SIGINT payload (Signal Intelligence) with an IMSI catcher system for detecting, identifying and locating mobile phones.
The Spy'Ranger X40 is ready to carry out its ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance,Reconnaissance) missions in a high-intensity conflict where many of the threats are electromagnetic. It is equipped with vision-based navigation and GNSS anti-jamming technologies. Its uTMA V2 data link, developed by Thales, integrates a specific and sovereign waveform, anti-jamming and encrypted, with frequency hopping, enabling it to resist enemy jammers.
Complying with STANAG 4609 (digital motion imagery) and 4545 (NSIF format), the Spy'Ranger X40 is interoperable with all artillery, intelligence and C4I systems meeting these standards. The Spy'Ranger X40 can also be certified to STANAG 4703 (Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airworthiness). 
It is designed and produced in France and does not include any equipment subject to war material control regulations.

The Spy'Ranger X100 is a light MAME (Medium Altitude-Medium Endurance) tactical UAV system. Equipped with electric motors for take-off and landing, and a gasoline engine for cruising flight, it has a range of over 10 hours and a range of over 100 km, with a total payload of 17 kg.
The Spy'Ranger X100 is natively equipped with a high-performance IMINT (Image Intelligence) payload with a Spy'Ball Mk4 gyrostabilised ball incorporating 1 HD EO (Electro-Optical) sensor and an optical/digital zoom, 1 very long-range IR (Infra-Red) sensor with a continuous optical/digital zoom, 1 laser pointer, 1 laser telemeter and eventually 1 laser designator. 
It will eventually be able to drop two Thales loitering munitions
It has a cargo bay at the centre of gravity of the air vehicle, enabling it to carry several types of payload: ROEM sensors (LTE, WiFi, U/VHF), jammers, a radar, a SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), a LIDAR, a sonar, a NRBC (Nuclear, Radiological, Bacteriological, Chemical) detector, emergency equipment, weapons (bombs, MTO) and two TOUTATIS remotely operated munitions.
The Spy'Ranger X100 can carry out its ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target acquisition & Reconnaissance) missions behind enemy lines in a high-intensity conflict environment, thanks to its vision-based navigation technology and GNSS anti-jamming system. Equipped with the secure, encrypted uTMA V2 data link, its frequency hopping waveform is specific and sovereign, and resists the most powerful jamming.
Like the Spy'Ranger X40, the Spy'Ranger X100 complies with STANAG 4609 (digital motion imagery) and STANAG 4545 (NSIF format) and is interoperable with all artillery, intelligence and C4I systems meeting these standards. The Spy'Ranger X100 can also be certified to STANAG 4703 (Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airworthiness).
Designed and produced in France, the Spy'Ranger X100 does not include any equipment subject to war material control regulations.