> our title:

France Begins UAV Operations Over Libya

> original title:

Libya: First Flight of Harfang in Support of Harmattan

(Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued Aug. 25, 2011)

(Issued in French only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)

The French air force has begun flying a Harfang (modified Heron) UAV from Sigonella air base, in Sicily, on reconnaissance missions over Libya. (French MoD photo)

Since August 18, a French air force Harfang unmanned aerial vehicle has deployed to Sigonella air base, in Sicily, from where it supports Operation Harmattan by carrying out reconnaissance missions. (Harmattan is the name of the French operation in Libya—Ed.).

About 20 people are tasked with the operation and maintenance of the UAV, which wan fly more than 15 hours each day as its on-board cameras allow it to carry out its mission by day and night.

Data gathered by the aircraft’s sensors is instantaneously transmitted to the ground command post. Such fast processing of operational photographs is a real operational bonus; it is made possible by using satellite transmission as well as other communications networks in the theatre of operations.

The Harfang UAV and its environment reinforce the French detachment, which includes five French air force Rafale combat aircraft fitted with Reco NG digital reconnaissance pods.

The Harfang drone carried out its first operational flight from Sigonella air base on August 24, for which it took off in the idle of the night.