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French government plans to buy 651 drones for surveillance purposes

French government plans to buy 651 drones for surveillance purposes

The French government plans to buy 651 drones for surveillance purposes, details of which are outlined in a tender worth almost €4M ($4.3M USD). The tender, titled “Drones” was published on April 12th on the official bulletin of public procurement announcements. It comes from the Ministry of the Interior, via the Purchasing, Equipment and Logistics Service for Homeland Security.

651 drones for surveillance purposes will be bought by French government

The tender distinguishes three different types of drones to be purchased in batches over a period of four years by the French government.

The first batch is for the purchase of 565 ‘every micro-drones for an estimated price of €1.8M ($1.9M USD) ex taxes. These drones must weigh less than 1 kg (2.2 Lbs) and be able to fly for at least 25 minutes at a height of 100 m (328 feet) while being discreet the unmanned aircraft must also be able to film in 4K or UHD and have a thermal camera while transmitting at least 3 km (1.86 miles). The Parrot Anafi Thermal comes to mind…

The second batch is for 66 unmanned aircraft ‘of national capacity’ with a weight limit of 8 kg, discreet, be able to fly to an altitude of at least 120 m for an estimated amount of €1.58M ($1.7M USD). These drones must be able to film a subject at a distance of 500 m (0.3 miles) with a 30x zoom lens, fly for 25 minutes without recharging and transmit over at least 5 km. A DJI Matrice 200/210 comes to mind…

The third batch is for around 20 ‘specialized nano drones’ for a total amount of €175,000 excluding Texas. These drones must weigh less than 50 g while having a minimum of 25 minutes of autonomous flight time and transmit their images over at least 2 km (1.2 miles).

According to the tender, these contracts include, in addition to the purchase of the equipment, their “maintenance in operational condition” and the training of agents. The purchases are part of a “program financed by European Union funds”, the Internal Security Fund (ISF). According to the website of the Ministry of the Interior, the FSI is divided into two parts: one focused on “external borders”, and the other on “police cooperation, crime prevention and suppression, and crisis management.”

Companies can send their proposals in, until June 19. The pricing and conditions must be valid for an additional eight months after this date.

Even though drones have been used by French law-enforcement officials to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, the ministry says that the purchase of these drones is unrelated to the pandemic.

“This call for tenders is unrelated to the current health situation, the expression of need and the technical specifications having been consolidated in during the second half of 2019,” according to the French newspaper Libération.

Critics of the planned drone purchase by the French government said on Facebook that:

“While the hospitals are still in shortage of masks and gowns due to lack of anticipation by the State, more tickets will be issued than tests. The mechanics of a surveillance company are being set up and “everyday micro-drones” are ordered to monitor the population.”

What do you think of governments buying drones in large numbers to monitor their own people? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Eric Gaillard. Reuters

Haye Kesteloo

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