The idea of a military drone conjures images of something more compact and subtle — a sleek sleeper that can quietly slip behind enemy lines to scope things out and spy or perhaps launch a preliminary attack. However, as drone technology has become more advanced, developers have been able to get a little wilder with the concepts, opting for larger bodies, more powerful weapons, and bigger, well, everything. It’s this design philosophy that has led to the creation of France’s newest, and largest, military drone, the AAROK.
Recently unveiled at the Paris Air Show, the AAROK is the latest development from French defense contractor Turgis & Gaillard, and it’s quite the behemoth. Weighing in at 5.4 tons at takeoff (or 10800 pounds) and packing a wingspan of 72 feet, the AAROK is big, heavy, and proud. About 6,000 pounds of that initial weight comes from the drone itself- the remainder comes from the roughly 3,300 pounds of munitions it can carry.
The mighty AAROK
The AAROK is a combat UAV designed for both power and endurance. With a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine that puts out 1,200 hp and a sturdy landing gear, the drone can take to the sky from any terrain, be it rough ground or an aircraft carrier. Once it’s in the air, it can be remotely controlled from its satcom datalink. Its endurance is rated for 24 hours of straight operation, ensuring it can stay in the air and do its job for as long as necessary.
One of the more interesting exhibits at @salondubourget will be this new UAV from Turgis & Gaillard. Seemed quite unremarkable to me when I first saw the picture…until I saw the size of the man stood by the wing. What a beast!! @JanesINTEL story by Frédéric Lert to come. pic.twitter.com/Fkow9HhW1a
— Gareth Jennings (@GarethJennings3) June 14, 2023
The AAROK is equipped with both offensive and reconnaissance capabilities. Optronic sensors, radar, and SIGINT sensors scan the surrounding area for hostiles and points of interest, and in a combat situation, the drone can quickly deploy both air-to-ground and precision-guided munitions.
According to Turgis & Gaillard’s press release on the device, the AAROK will find its home as a maritime surveillance tool, a battlefield communications node, and a “key asset for operational dominance” for unmanned strikes. Turgis & Gaillard has also promoted the fact that an AAROK unit is generally easy to create, as all of its components are off-the-shelf. Using a simple, yet robust fuselage, the company can crank out these sturdy drones without going overboard on development labor and costs.
The AAROK is still in its prototype stages, though, according to Trugis & Gaillard, it reportedly will be production-ready soon.