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French Camcopter S-100 UAVs finally ready for operational use after more than 10 years of testing.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by Jean-Marc Tanguy on February 8, 2024, the French Navy's Unit 36F, based in Hyeres, has recently incorporated the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Camcopter S-100 on the amphibious assault ship Dixmude. (Picture source: French Navy)

This addition positions the 36F as the first unit within the French Navy to operationalize UAV technology, alongside its established fleet of Panther helicopters, which have been in service since the mid-1990s.

The S-100 drones will serve aboard the Navy's three amphibious helicopter carriers, aiming to enhance the fleet's operational flexibility and cooperative engagement potential with the Panther helicopters.

The Schiebel Camcopter S-100, developed by the Austrian company Schiebel between 2003 and 2005, is distinguished by its rotorcraft design. It exhibits a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 200 kg and is capable of a flight endurance of 6 hours, which can be extended to over 10 hours with the addition of optional external AVGAS fuel tanks.

The UAV has a maximum speed of 220 km/h and can operate up to a ceiling of 5,500 meters. Powered by a 41 kW (55 hp) Diamond engine, the S-100 can be equipped with a variety of payloads, including electro-optics and infrared sensors, to fulfill diverse mission requirements.

A significant aspect of the S-100's design is its communication system, which primarily utilizes the 5030‐5091 MHz band for the primary radio link between the ground station(s) and the UAV. An additional secondary link operates in the UHF band, specifically within the 433.2125 MHz to 434.4625 MHz range, enhancing the UAV's operational reliability and flexibility.

With a capacity of 50 kg for payload, the UAV dimensions include a length of 3.11 m, a width of 1.24 m, and a height of 1.12 m. The UAV is also equipped with two hardpoints and can carry lightweight multirole missiles.

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