Spain acquires high-end SiRTAP UAS to replace aging Searcher

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In a significant move, the Council of Ministers has authorized a contract for the acquisition of 27 Sirtap RPAS from Airbus Defense and Space, valued at approximately 595 million euros. This contract encompasses nine systems, each including three drones and a ground control station, along with two simulators equipped with training capabilities, and preliminary logistical support. 

Photo credit: Airbus

The Ministry of Defense has affirmed that the RPAS will be operated by the Army, replacing the aging Searcher, and the Air and Space Army. The Air Force, which currently lacks drones of this type, will see an enhancement in its capabilities. It is worth mentioning that the Air Force has been operating the Predator, a MALE-type drone with superior performance to the Sirtap, since 2020. 

This program holds high industrial importance. The Sirtap [High-Performance Remotely Piloted System] was formulated by the Airbus Defense and Space Division in Spain, based on the requirements of the Spanish Armed Forces. Over two decades after the C-295, Spain will once again possess its own aircraft and assembly line. 

The development, which also involves Colombia, is nearing completion. Airbus DS will spearhead a program that unites other businesses in the Spanish defense sector, along with Colombian companies such as CIAC. reports that the program has recently gained attention from other Latin American countries, while Serbia is closely observing its progress in Europe. 

The government sanctioned the spending limit for this program in April, with the launch pending contract approval. Other programs that have received funding for several weeks, such as the Army’s tracked vehicle [VAC] and the new C-295 for maritime surveillance and patrolling for the Air Force and Space, face a similar situation. 

Photo credit: Airbus

It is noteworthy that the Sirtap program’s launch comes just three days after the election, with the government viewing it as a process. Accordingly, contracts for both the VAC and the batch of 16 C-295s can also be approved. 

SiRTAP Characteristics

The Sirtap [High-Performance Tactical RPAS System] will be 7.3 meters long, with a wingspan of 12 meters and a height of 2.2 meters. Weighing 750 kilograms, the Sirtap is designed for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance [ISR] missions. It will have the capacity to operate continuously for over 20 hours and reach an altitude of 21,000 feet. 

The system’s core will be made up of an electro-optical and infrared camera and target detection radar. It will have a maximum payload or sensor carrying capacity of 150 kg. The drone will be equipped to operate in extreme climate conditions, ranging from -40⁰C to +50⁰, courtesy of an ice protection system and high-temperature amplitude. 

Photo credit: Twitter

The initial Sirtap version will be tailored for surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance [ISR] missions. Airbus, however, suggests that future versions could integrate weapons, thereby giving drone attack capabilities. 

The initial version will incorporate an electro-optical and infrared [EO/IR] dome in the lower front, as well as a synthetic aperture radar [SAR], enabling it to operate even under low visibility due to weather conditions.


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