The Spanish government has officially signed a hefty 500 million euro deal with Airbus for the procurement of 17 SIRTAP tactical drones. A decision which marks a significant milestone in the country's defense sector.
The SIRTAP program had received the green light from Spain in April. The new SIRTAP unmanned aircraft are set to replace the existing “Searcher” drones, manufactured by Israel, currently in operation with the Spanish Army.
A peek into the contract details
Airbus Defence & Space, the division handling this massive deal, is tasked not only with manufacturing the drones but also managing their development. The contract details underline the delivery of nine SIRTAP systems, with each system encompassing three drones along with a control station.
In addition to the primary order, Airbus also has to deliver two simulators. One for the Spanish Army and the second for the Spanish Air and Space Army.
Functionality of the SIRTAP drones
The target roles for the SIRTAP drones span intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions across both land and sea.
The advanced features of these drones include a payload capability of over 150 kg, a wingspan stretching to 12 meters, a length of 7.3 meters. Moreover, they have a runway requirement of 800 meters for takeoff, can stay airborne for 20 hours, and have an operational radius of 2,000 km.
While the drones could be armed, currently the Spanish Ministry of Defense does not plan to utilize this feature.
Manufacturing and Future Prospects
The SIRTAP drones are completely manufactured in Spain and are ITAR Free, signifying that they do not incorporate any American-made parts. The prototype's first flight has been projected for 2025, with the objective to commence service by 2026.
Airbus Defence & Space has hinted that the SIRTAP drone could be assimilated with other platforms in the future. It is also indicated to play a significant role in the development of the Future Air Combat System (SCAF).
Not just Spain, several other nations like Colombia and Serbia have shown interest in the SIRTAP drones. In fact, Serbia is allegedly in talks with Airbus for a potential joint production of the SIRTAP drone and the armed version of the H125M helicopter.