France unveils the largest combat drone ever

The Aarok drone, which flies at medium altitude and long ranges, has been developed in secret and is scheduled to take to the air before the end of the year.

In a surprising development, a new French Aarok drone has debuted, in prototype form ahead of next week’s Paris Air Show. The Aarok Unmanned Aircraft System, or UAS, is a new addition to the Medium Altitude Long Range (MALE) aircraft segment and is intended for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) flights, as well as strike missions. For the latter, it is planned to carry the French-made AASM Hammer, a precision-guided weapon with extended standoff capability and various warhead sizes.

Aarok drone

Aarok is the product of a previously unknown French defense contractor, Turgis & Gaillard, which has steadily expanded its operations in its home country, culminating in the Aarok model. The drone weighs about 5.4 tons, in its maximum take-off configuration, and has attracted attention because of its size. Its 72-foot wingspan is actually slightly larger than the US-made MQ-9A Reaper, with a wingspan of just over 69 feet, but the fuselage is much larger by comparison.

The Aarok will be powered by a 1,200-hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine driving a conventional, front-mounted propeller. In the future, Turgis & Gaillard plans to install a Safran Ardiden 3 or GE Aviation Catalyst turboprop.

In addition to a maximum takeoff weight of 5.4 tons, published specifications for the Aarok include an empty weight of approximately 2.5 tons and a maximum payload of 6,000 pounds, including up to 3,300 pounds of weapons.



The drone is planned to fly for more than 24 hours. These parameters put the Aarok in a class very similar to the MQ-9A Reaper, which is already in service with the French Air Force.

The design of the Aarok is intended to allow it to conduct operations from rough fields, with the robust landing gear being one of the main features of the prototype.

Written by rfrfx

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