Armor: March 5, 2002


France is developing its own future combat system, to be known as Boa, built around the EBRC eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier and a number of unmanned sensor platforms. The EBRC (designed to be carried by the new A400M transport plane) is to be in service by 2012. Boa will be supported by unmanned ground vehicles of a new type known as Syrano, based on current remotely-controlled minesweeping vehicles. It is expected that this technology can be ready in five years. The first vehicles would carry sensors, later generations could carry their own weapons. UAVs are to be the key to the system, however. The current generation of Crecerelle, Crecerelle-EW, CL289, and (Israeli-built) Hunter drones will not be adequate. For Boa, the French want a UAV that is smaller than 30cm (one foot across) and able to operate vertically (as small helicopters, not small airplanes). Existing UAVs are available which are under 50cm but fixed wing, and these will not be usable in urban warfare. The French want a 30cm hovering UAV ready by 2010 and a smaller 15cm version by 2015.--Stephen V Cole


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