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France continues its efforts to develop its long-term UAV acquisition plan, which has long been a topic of soul searching and frequent changes both in the tactical UAV realm and above. As part of the continued flux, the French Senate has just come out urging the government to buy General Atomics Reaper UAVs rather than IAI Heron-TPs as an interim measure. The Senators say the deal in favor of the U.S. system would be cheaper and give French forces a more capable system than the Dassault-fronted IAI product would deliver. The Senators note a Reaper deal would also save money to be used for the Franco-British MALE UAV program, where the two countries want to assure their long-term unmanned aircraft industrial base and end their dependence on foreign suppliers.Meanwhile, in another long-running effort on the tactical UAV front, Schiebel notes that its Camcopter S-100 has demonstrated shipboard operations on the L'Adroit offshore patrol vessel. The company says during four days of operations in the Bay of Biscay this month, the system performed 89 deck landings and 11 flights. France is still assessing how large a VTOL UAV to put on ships for operational roles -- is also is conducting trials with the Unmanned Little Bird. (Photo: Schiebel)
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