France will accelerate procurement of drones, helicopters and tanker planes as part of a larger potential recovery plan to help aerospace industry cope with the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 outbreak.
The announcement was made by French defense minister Florence Parly on Tuesday. The Ministry of Armed Forces has allotted a total budget of €600 million for its recovery plan which covers the early procurement of rotary and fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicles for the French Navy, and 3 A330-MRTT; 1 ISTAR aircraft and 8 H225M helicopters for the French Air Force.
The ministry will buy VSR700 VTOL drones under the French Navy aerial drone systems (SDAM) program, and Aliaca on-board mini-drones (SMDM) from SME SurveyCopter.
The VSR700 was being pitched for the Navy’s SDAM project initially scheduled for 2028. It is based on the Cabri G2 manned helicopter platform design by French SME Guimbal. The platform is marinized and militarized by Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group.
The drones will be deployed aboard the future frigates of the French Navy, the FDI as well as the FREMM.
France’s €15B Package to Heal Aerospace Industry Hit By COVID-19
French Finance Minister announced a €15 billion aid package to revive the ailing aerospace industry which employs about 300,000 people and generates €58 billion in annual revenue. The package provides loans, investment, payroll subsidies and credit guarantees to cushion the damage wrought by the deadly virus.
The ministry has earmarked €1.5 billion over three years to build less polluting planes including a successor for the best-selling A320 family of jets that could enter service from 2033. Also included is the development of a hybrid electric regional plane, a more fuel-efficient Airbus Ecureuil helicopter and a clean private jet.
Airbus, Safran, Thales and Dassault Aviation will contribute to a fund to help the small and medium-sized companies hardest hit by the crisis.