On Thursday, April 25th, the SARISA drone, an uncrewed combat air vehicle (UCAV) developed by Greek SAS Technology, successfully launched a Thales 70mm rocket during a trial conducted at the firing range of the Hellenic Ministry of Defence’s General Directorate for Defence Investments and Armaments (GDDIA).

This milestone marks the world’s inaugural utilisation of a 70mm rocket on this platform, expanding its military capabilities to include close air support operations.

Collaborating closely with Thales Belgium, engineering teams from both companies worked under the supervision of the local GDDIA and with support from Hellenic Defense Systems company (HDS) to conduct this firing.

Unmanned milestones

By leveraging the guided and unguided capabilities of the Thales 70mm rocket, the SARISA drone can emulate the functions of attack helicopters and fighter jets at a fraction of the cost and with reduced risk.

The synergistic integration of the SARISA drone’s flexibility and the precision of the Laser Guided Rocket, achieved through the collaboration between SAS Technology and Thales, has produced a practical, adaptable, and transportable weapon system that provides advantages for ground troops.

By incorporating Thales’ FZ275 LGR laser-guided rocket, ground forces can rely on this system’s support to neutralise specific targets, such as light armoured vehicles, radar stations, aircraft on the ground, and buildings, while maintaining a stand-off distance.

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The drone’s autonomy is seamlessly combined with the rocket’s firing range of over 7 kilometres, ensuring operational capabilities.

The firing trial represents an initial step in the UCAV SARISA program with Thales’ 2.75″/70mm rockets. Further tests, encompassing guided and unguided missiles in diverse firing scenarios, will be conducted to showcase this solution’s full potential and versatility.

Last month, Thales also fired their missiles from a JACKAL drone in another unmanned air combat milestone. The JACKAL drone system is capable of various combat missions over land, sea, and air and completed a first trial firing of a Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM).

Thales’ FZ275LGR, already qualified for deployment on various airborne and land-based platforms, benefits end-users. This economical solution excels in defeating light-armoured and low-cost targets.

The rocket can be fired in both lock-on-after-launch and lock-on-before-launch modes, providing communication capabilities with the gunner, improving efficiency, expanding the weapon’s firing domain, and ensuring heightened safety.

Thales recorded a 9.4% increase in sales in Q1 of FY23. The France-based defence and security company registered sales of €4.026bn in the first quarter (Q1) of the fiscal year (FY) 2023.