Spain and Colombia enter agreement with Airbus for advanced Sirtap drones

The Spanish government has given its approval for the acquisition of 27 high-performance Sirtap drones from Airbus, at an estimated cost of 595 million euros. This historic agreement marks the initiation of the production of a Spanish-designed drone intended for the Spanish Armed Forces, in collaboration with Colombia. Both countries plan to replace the last generation of Israeli-made drones with the latest ones, as previously reported by the Air Recognition team on April 25, 2023.

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Spain and Colombia Enter Agreement with Airbus for Advanced Sirtap Drones 925   Sirtap tactical drone from Airbus. (Picture source: Airbus)

Airbus touts the Sirtap tactical drone as a significant advancement in the high-end tactical UAS segment. Its versatility will cater to a wide range of missions tailored to the operational needs of clients in both institutional and governmental markets. The drone is designed to operate under extreme environmental and operational conditions, being certified to fly in segregated airspace and conduct civilian operations, all on the same platform.

The Sirtap is engineered to operate in all weather conditions, thanks to its anti-icing system and broad temperature range capability, enabling it to function between -40°C to +50°C. With an endurance of over 20 hours, flying at an altitude of 21,000 feet, and carrying a payload exceeding 150 kg (consisting of sensors, cameras, etc.), this 750 kg tactical UAS is well-suited for day/night and maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, enabling rapid response for close target inspection. The drone requires an 800-meter-long runway for takeoff.

For transportation ease, the Sirtap's wings and rotor can be easily disassembled to fit standard containers, allowing for both land and air transport, with transport aircraft like the C295 able to carry two Sirtap drones in a single flight.

The drones supplied to the Spanish forces will be equipped with an optical station and synthetic aperture radar. The possibility of equipping them with guided weaponry in the future is also being considered.

Nearly 90% of the complex's components are manufactured in Spain. Airbus claims that nothing similar has been created in Europe, making the Sirtap a significant European project aimed at reducing technological dependence on Israeli and US suppliers for the continent's armies.

Initially designed for surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence (ISR) missions, the Sirtap has the potential for future armament integration, bolstering its attack capabilities.

This project represents a crucial milestone in the development of the Spanish aerospace industry, as it will enable Spain to possess its own "Made in Spain" drone and establish a national assembly line. The program has also piqued the interest of several Latin American countries, while Serbia closely monitors its progress in Europe.

The agreement includes the delivery of nine systems, each comprising three drones and a ground control station. Additionally, two simulators with instruction and training capabilities will be provided, along with initial logistical support.

The Ministry of Defense has confirmed that the Spanish Army (Ejército de Tierra) will employ the Sirtap to replace its veteran Searcher drone, while the Spanish Air and Space Force (Ejército del Aire y del Espacio), currently lacking drones of this type, will see its capabilities strengthened with the introduction of the Sirtap, complementing the already existing MALE Predator drone since 2020.

The approval of the contract comes just three days after the elections, while the government is in office. This development paves the way for other programs awaiting approval, such as the Vehículo de Apoyo de Cadenas (VAC) for the Army and the new C-295 surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft for the Air and Space Force.