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Crécerelle (Kestrel)

France has opted for a low-cost, off-the-shelf UAV, the Crecerelle. The Crecerelle has proven to be attractive to export customers as well, serving as the basis for the new Dutch Sperwer, and for a new Swedish program. France is focusing on a machine like the Crécerelle, that is fairly big and meets a specific need in contact zones. The equipment is already operational in France and could be further developed. Crécerelle is an example of a project that grew rapidly. The efficiency of the device is good enough so that the French Army can assess the system and see how it can be used. The French are working on devices, such as the Vigilant, that are low-cost and flexible, that do not require any special terrain, but also machines like the Crécerelle, that require bigger operating facilities but that also have greater capabilities.

The HALE (High Altitude, Long Endurance) belongs to a more strategic field. They are bigger and more sophisticated. As a result, more compromises are required. Sagem has signed an agreement with General Atomics to market the HALE. However, engineering a HALE requires a decision at a whole other level. French authorities are waiting to see what will happen with the American's Global Hawk before making a decision.

Although the more or less official term for vehicles of this type is UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), a French word [from Greek roots] for a plane without a pilot has been coined - "gnopter". The word comes from the Greek words: "gnosis" meaning knowledge, "gnome" meaning intelligence and "pteron" meaning wing. This word sums up the machine's mission. The gnopter is a device that can increase information on, or knowledge of a given location. The machines can also be adjusted in real-time, to fulfill a given mission.


Builder :


In-service in the French Army :

Summer 1994

Breadth / Length :

3.30 m / 2.75 m

Weight :

115 kg

Autonomy :

3 hours

Power plant :

2-stroke engine, rear propeller

Operational ceiling :

10,000 ft

Maximum speed :

240 km/h

Navigation :

Self-guided by digital computer using several sensors (gyroscope, magnetometer, GPS, pressure sensor)

Payload :

Panoramic video camera, high definition camera, high definition infrared analyser, transmission of data to ground operators from up to 50 km

Composition of a complete CRECERELLE platoon :

1 ground control and image reception center, 1 launcher, 1 trailer and 6 drones

Major operational capabilities :

Mission planning in 40 min ; maps and recce shots on optical disks ; night and day localisation of targets

cost less than $100,000

Main user nations :

Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark

French Army inventory :

12 drones in 2 platoons

Typical mission

Observation of refugee columns

Detection and surveillance of adverse positions

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Tuesday, September 21, 1999 10:18:15 AM