Asymmetric Dialogue

A French startup is once again trying to sell a flying car to special forces





Vaylon has teamed with Sopemea, a unit of the Apave group, in an attempt to speed up the certification of its aerial dune buggy adapted for military operations, said Francis Rodriguez, vice president for sales and marketing.
“Sopemea would draw up the certification program under the supervision of the regulatory authorities,” he said. Talks are being held for the partnership, which would grant Sopemea a year to draft and conduct the certification tests.
The special forces’ interest in stealthy aerial approach stems from losing in 2013 two commandos to insurgents in a failed attempt to rescue a French spy held captive in Somalia, in which the sound of approaching French helicopters alerted the enemy on the ground.
Sopemea specializes in certification, including drafting a qualification program, conducting tests and reporting the results. One of Sopemea’s tasks is to certify the Griffon multipurpose troop carrier for protection against exposure to ultraviolet A and B, which are conducive to cancer. Another certification being conducted is Griffon’s resistance to sand, and low and high temperatures.
A certification is key to export sales, Rodriguez said.
“The first question the client asks is, has it been certified in France?” he said. The latest Pegase version includes a larger parachute for paraglide and bigger foot rudder, to boost lift and maneuverability. Vaylon also has developed a 20-hour training course for flying Pegase, with a paramotor powered parachute for a trainer to guide a student in flight.
That paramotor could also spark interest in the special forces and conventional forces, Rodriguez said.
The start-up has won funding from Airbus Development, a unit of Airbus group, which will help finance the two-year development of the MK 3 version, which will have hybrid power with an electric and diesel engine. The paramotor trainer will also carry hybrid power.
Sopemea will present the Pegase at its stand at the Eurosatory trade show for land weapons, which runs June 11 to 15.
defensenews.com