Sperwer unmanned aerial system (UAS) is designed to
support Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and
reconnaissance (ISTAR) at the battlegroup level (brigade to division).
The Sperwer system comprises three aerial vehicles,
ground control station (GCS), transportable hydraulic catapult and
ground data terminal (GDT) housed in the communications shelter
carried on high mobility vehicles. The entire system can be
transported in two C-130 aircraft and operate from unprepared sites
using catapult launch, and parachute and airbags recovery.
The system supports simultaneous control of two aircraft,
from a single GCS. Furthermore, several GCSs can control multiple
missions, and can hand-over UAVs between each other. The ground
station is provided with advanced mission planning tools, including 3D
terrain modeling and flight path presentation on a geographical data
system, image processing, interpretation and connection to C4I
networks and compatibility with NATO datalinks and communications
networks. To improve survivability and stealth, the GCS can be located
up to 2 kilometers from the GDT.
The aerial vehicles are available in
various models, including the basic design, long endurance (Sperwer B)
and a Slow-Fast penetrator, a new tactical
drone concept designed in cooperation with Dassault Aviation. Sperwer
B currently under development, will use larger wings, which will store
more fuel, doubling the aircraft endurance and payload capability. All
air vehicles share common system architecture, advanced digital
avionics suit, datalinks, ground stations and catapult. Sperwer is
qualified to operate in harsh weather conditions, including
temperature, wind, rain, icing etc. Sperwer B is also capable to
operate at higher elevations of up to 18,000 feet.
Sperwer is designed to carry the Sagem
OLOSP FLIR payload, providing high
resolution day and night imagery and target geolocation with an
accuracy of 20 meters. Other payloads designed for Sperwer include
ELINT, COMINT, communications relay and SAR. The aircraft is equipped
with a digital J band datalink (15GHz) and transponder/IFF (Mode 3C)
and VHF relay for easy integration in controlled airspace. Sperwer B
will be able to carry multiple payloads (EO/IR and SAR or EO/IR and
relay etc.) It will also be equipped with two underwing hardpoints, to
carry external loads of up to 30kg each. Sagem has already
demonstrated the integration of Sperwer B with the
SPIKE LR missile and is
cooperating with GIAT, to test a new smart munition delivery system,
based on the Bonus submunition. According
to Sagem, the armed configuration requires the reduction of up to 20
kg of fuel, thus limiting the endurance of the armed Sperwer.
The system is currently in use with the Canadian, which
deployed the system in Afghanistan. It is also used by the Swedish
Dutch forces, and was recently acquired by the Greek Army.
A derivative of the Sperwer - System de Drone Tactique Intermediare (SDTI)
is also in operation with the French Army. It entered service in 2003
as a replacement for Sagem's Crecerelle system. According to some
reports, Pakistan and Saudi-Arabia are also interested in this system.
The Sperwer was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 as part of the
ISAF. Since March 2006 the UAV is back in Afghanistan for operations
in the Kandahar region.
Canada Order More Sperwers
Canada procured SPERWER TUAVs in 2003 to meet
requirements for Operation ATHENA, Canada's contribution to the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. In in
Decembert 2005 Canada announced the procurement of five additional
Sperwers at a cost of C$15 million covering attrition, maintaining
system availability throughout the vehicle's repair and turn-around
time. The UAVs were delivered in early 2006 by Oerlikon-Contraves
Canada, acting as Canadian prime contractor for France's SAGEM.
Following the deactivation of the Danish Army Sperwer unit, Canada
acquired the Danish systems, which will reinforce its UAV fleet. The
Danish systems will be standardized by Sagem to the Canadian
configuration (ground station and aerial vehicles).