Why can the new French Aarok drone reshape the MALE drone market?

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From an article from Challenge published Thursday afternoon, the small world of French, but also European, military aeronautics is in turmoil. Indeed, the article reveals the existence of a brand new Medium Altitude Long Endurance combat drone, or MALE, which will be presented for the first time at the 2023 Paris Air Show.

The Aarok drone has been developed for three years in the greatest secrecy by the French company Turgis & Gaillard, with the support of the DGA which oversees contracts and armament developments for the French Armies.

The characteristics of the Aarok drone from Turgis & Gaillard

For now, the information made public about this new drone, called Aarok, is relatively limited. At best, do we know that the drone will have a maximum take-off weight of 5,5 tons, and a payload capacity of 1,5 tons allowing it to implement, for example, 4 guided bombs of 250 kg and 2 medium anti-tank missiles like the Hellfire or the Akheron MP, and that it will have a range of around 25 hours.

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In terms of propulsion, the Aarok will initially be equipped with the Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop, then the new Ardiden turboprop under development by Safran. Above all, the new drone has been designed to be robust, some would say rustic, able to be implemented from sketchy terrain of 400 to 600 m.

The Aarok drone will be equipped with the PT6 in its initial version
In its initial version, the Aarok will be powered by the PT6 turboprop, but will carry Safran's Ardiden turboprop when it becomes available.

But its most disruptive quality is none other than its price, announced "between 5 and 10 m€", i.e. a unit price barely higher than much lighter drones such as the TB2 Bayraktar from Turkey's Baykar, and sometimes much lower than the heavy MALE drones offering similar performance, such as the American MQ-9 Reaper, the Israeli Eitan or the Turkish Akinci.

A hybrid MALE drone between the TB2 Bayraktar and the MQ9 Reaper

Before going into the details of the analysis, it should be remembered that the information disseminated around the Aarok is very fragmentary, and that it should therefore be taken with caution, pending further clarification and confirmation of the performances announced during the flight tests.

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In particular, the comparison in terms of unit price of drones is always difficult, to the extent that MALE drones are implemented as a complete autonomous system composed of several drones, but also a control station and a communication station ensuring the connection with the device, making the public unit price often difficult to compare, because it is based on different scopes.

LOGO meta defense 70 Drones MALE | Defense Analysis | Combat drones

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