> our title:

France Deploys First 2 Reapers to Niger

> original title:

Press Release

(Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued Jan. 1, 2014

(Issued in French; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)


Medium Altitude Long Endurance Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles have been delivered to the Air Force. Visiting the Sahel region, the [French] Minister of Defence was able to inspect their installation.

A first system of MQ-9 (Block 1) Reaper drones has been delivered to the French air force and deployed in the Sahel region. A system consists of two unmanned aircraft and a ground control station. Traveling to Niger on Wednesday, January 1, 2014, Defence Minister Jean- Yves Le Drian was able to inspect their installation before the detachment becomes fully operational in January.

The arrival of this first UAV system is a result of the priority given to intelligence in the White Paper on Defense and National Security that was approved by the President of the Republic on 29 April 2013. The 2014-2019 military program law provides for the purchase of four UAV systems, for a total of twelve unmanned aircraft. They will complement the Harfang drones that are already operating in various theaters.

Decided by the Minister of Defence, this acquisition is intended to make up for the delay in drone capabilities that France had accumulated in recent years.

It was in August 2013 that the U.S. administration gave its consent, allowing France to begin the process of acquiring of two Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Reaper drones. Since then, the first six pilots and sensor operators have been trained.

France thus reinforces its significant intelligence capabilities in this part of Africa. These drones will provide surveillance and control over large areas and intelligence against terrorist formations.

Our German and Italian partners have flown over 15,000 flight hours with their MALE UAVs and the British 50,000 hours. This European operational experience will be used within a European MALE UAV users’ group, whose establishment was decided at the last European Council in December 2013. Europeans have also decided to jointly begin initial work that could lead to a future European UAV.

Specifications

The MQ-9 Reaper is a latest generation MALE drone that uses the most advanced technologies available on the market both for air vehicles and onboard sensors. By using optical and radar sensors to effect real-time monitoring, the range and endurance of the Reaper drones will allow them to operate throughout the Sahel-Saharan strip. Although the Reaper is capable of carrying weapons, France chose not to arm its own drones.

Features FR MQ-9 Reaper
- Wingspan (m): 20.1
- Height (m): 3.8
- Length (m): 11
- Max Weight (t): 4.76
- Turboprop engine: 900 hp
- Speed (max / cruise, in kts): 240/160
- Altitude (max/operating, in feet): 45,000 / 25,000
- Internal fuel: 1,850 kg
- Endurance: >24 h

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