A “call for projects for a mini electronic support payload on drones” was unveiled by the French Defense Innovation Agency for “an electronic support payload that can be integrated into drones with a lower maximum take-off mass. at »55 pounds.
“This payload must be able to detect, locate, identify or even interact with or block telecommunications transmitters,” the agency said in a press release Friday.
The agency called its project “Sauron”, named after the all-seeing eye in the “Lord of the Rings” book series. Its budget is $ 473,000.
He cites a January 2021 deadline for submissions and a seven-month window for research and development leading to demonstrations.
The application stresses that the drone must operate in a unitary and autonomous fashion, rather than in a more typical swarm, and that it can detect, locate, track and possibly jam radio transmitters operating between 30 and 6,000 megahertz.
The project is an example of signal intelligence and comes as several similar efforts are underway in Europe. The size of the proposed drone suggests that it could be used by small army units for better situational awareness of nearby enemy units, experts said.
The US military has a similar initiative, described in a 2010 in its “Unmanned Systems Roadmap, 2010-2035,” using the Silent Echo, Scan Eagle payloads and the MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone.
France’s request for proposal specifies, however, that the project “must not involve any subcontractor outside the European Union”.