In recent years a playful object has reached an increasing number of users. This object is one of the children of the digital transformation. This is the Drone. But the interest of the drone does not stop only at this playful and personal aspect, it has many other uses, notably in the industrial and agricultural field, but also and especially in the military.
While sovereignty aspects are crucial in each of these areas, they are vital in the military area. We will review the different uses, and how France and Europe fit in this environment.
In the past 5 to 10 years, the rise in the use of drones for fun has exploded. We can probably consider that this is one of the most used connected objects, if we exclude connected watches and other activity tracking bracelets.
If we are to believe the drone-élite.fr magazine, of the 10 best drones on the market, 6 belong to the Djin brand (Chinese), 4 of which are in the first places. We have two European players, a French Parrot® and the other German Yuneec®, which are respectively ninth and eighth. If we take another ranking the results remain comparable, it is the Chinese company Dji® which once again performs well with flying colors.
It is regrettable to note that Parrot®, which for a time was a leader on the French, and even European, market has been dethroned by a Chinese player, which has conquered the market with quality products at reasonable prices. But our French flagship remains in the race and we hope that its ability to innovate and offer new products will enable it to win back French customers.
Drones for professional use
Many industrial and security sectors have adopted drones as an important auxiliary to their activities, whether for surveillance, auditing of hard-to-reach installations, or even for agricultural applications, as with the start-up. up French Abelio®.
If we believe once again the magazine drone-élite.frwe find for professional drones the same ranking as for recreational uses … However, according to the magazine loisirmag.com, in the 6 best professional drones if we Once again, the Chinese manufacturer Dji® is once again in first position, and the Parrot® is also in 5th position. New players are emerging, such as Husban® which is also a Chinese player, or GOPro® which are positioned in second and third place respectively.
In this segment Parrot® is one of the players that matters, it is from my point of view important that we still manage to have major players in this sector of activity, in particular through the skills and talents that this type of product allows to implement.
In this area, it is clear that Europe and France are critically behind the great military powers, such as the United States, Russia or China, but we are also facing very active players, such as the United States. Israelis (Les Echos – 2017)
It is however interesting to note that the American army does not hesitate to call on French companies, such as Parrot® to equip itself with reconnaissance drones, even if for the occasion Parrot® is associated with an American partner NEOTech ® (leboursier.com). It is not the only French company to supply the American army, the French SME Drone Voltt is also in the game.
The DGA (General Delegation of Armaments) has decided to order around 2000 micro-drones over 5 years for the essential benefit of the Army (Capital). The choice fell on two suppliers, an American FLIR® for the black hornet3 and a French Novadem® for the NX70. However, the selection of Parrot® by the American army is viewed favorably by the French army, new opportunities for our French actor?
For the moment, the French Air Force is equipped with American Reaper drones (L’Express), these of a larger size, close to a classic aircraft, are intended for long-term missions and can also henceforth be used to neutralize targets from a distance and not just for reconnaissance.
In the military field, sovereignty is even more essential, and it is terribly unfortunate to note that the Eurodrone program (MALE Drone for Medium Altitude Long Endurance) could take water and that in the end, our armed forces could turn to an actor, again American (Challenges) … The responsibilities of such a failure would not be attributable only to political personnel, but would also be due to a rigidity and one could say a bad will on the part of the industrial actors involved (Dassault, Airbus and Léonardo).
In the boxes, there is also the Dassault aviation combat drone program, which offers a demonstrator, the Neuron. This is a program initiated in 2003 by the French government which has since been joined by other European players. The demonstrator is not only a study and models, but a machine which is in the advanced testing phase with the possibilities of integrating wing flight with a combat aircraft like the Rafale, whose F4 standard should notably greatly facilitate this type of integration.
In this area as in others, the issue of sovereignty is crucial. It is therefore important not to harm this sector.
As with other sectors of activity, maintaining a drone industry in France and in Europe means ensuring that a minimum base of skills will be maintained in our territories.
Once again, this is a much needed source of skilled jobs.
Mastering the entire value chain and key components also means better understanding how data related to the use of drones will be used and stored, whether civilian or military …
Having our own industry of drones, not based on American or Chinese technological bricks, means ensuring that we can export our own technologies without running the risk of being hampered by geopolitical pressures, particularly American ones.
This is therefore a crucial sector that we must ensure that we do not lose the skills that already exist. When we talk about drones we often think of the aerial aspect, but this is not the only one, and for land and sea multiple key industrial or military uses make it necessary to be interested in current developments and come.
Developments in this sector are rich (does that mean multiple or numerous?) And we must continue to follow them …