Successful first flight of the reconnaissance drone in Switzerland

Bern, 15.06.2022 - This morning, at shortly after 07:00, the new reconnaissance drone for the Swiss Armed Forces in Emmen completed its first flight. With this successful test flight, the reconnaissance drone system 15 (ADS 15) reaches another important milestone.

After the successful taxiing trials in May 2022, the first of the two drones of the reconnaissance drone system 15 (ADS 15) which arrived in Switzerland at the end of April 2022 completed its successful first flight.
This morning the drone with registration D-14 controlled by a Swiss test pilot took off for its first flight at 07:00. After a flight of around 70 minutes the drone returned safely to Emmen. During its flight, the drone attained a maximum speed of 180 kilometres per hour and a maximum altitude of 2,000 metres above the sea.
Specialists from the Israeli manufacturer Elbit supported the Swiss project team in the preparation before and during the flight. All planned test points of the first flight were successfully completed.

Transfer to the Air Force by end of 2022

The successful first flight marks an important step in the procurement of the ADS 15 and further flying tests in Switzerland. In the coming months, additional tests will take place with the two drones (registration D-11 and D-14) from Swiss military airfields. Among other things, the sensors will be tested, the technical functionality of the drones checked and flown and missions of various durations in length carried out. The ADS 15 can remain in the air for up to 24 hours.
Once flight testing and authorisation by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) have been completed, the two drones will be transferred to the Air Force during the second half of the year. The remaining four drones will follow by the end of 2023.

Reconnaissance drone system 15 (ADS 15)

The ADS 15 is an unmanned and unarmed reconnaissance system. It replaces reconnaissance drone system 95, used by the Armed Forces until the end of 2019, which was based on technology from the 1980s. The forecast operating life of ADS 15 is around 20 years. The drone is intended for situation and target intelligence, but can also be equipped with different sensors as necessary, for example imaging radar, to generate a picture of the situation on the ground or for electronic reconnaissance. The system can be deployed during the daytime or at night.

The ADS 15 can perform the following:

  • Monitoring of large areas
  • Target search, reconnaissance and pursuit
  • Input to the operational picture and protection of critical infrastructures and own forces

As with the previous system, the users are military and civilian authorities such as Cantonal Management Staff, police and rescue agencies and the Swiss Border Guard. When defending against a military attack, the ADS 15 helps manage and control ground activities, in particular for fire support. Apart from reconnaissance drones, only helicopters equipped with infrared sensors (forward-looking infrared: FLIR) are suitable for aerial reconnaissance at present. Drones are a sustained, reliable, low-risk and cost-effective resource for a permanent presence above an operational area.

The procurement comprises six drones including ground components, simulator and logistics.

Address for enquiries

Kaj-Gunnar Sievert
Head of Communications armasuisse
+41 58 464 62 47



General Secretariat DDPS