> our title:

French UAVs Pass 10,000th Flight Hours

> original title:

10,000 Flight Hours for the Harfang Drone

(Source: French air force; issued Feb 24, 2014)

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

Deployed to support French operational in Mali since January 17, 2013, the French air force’s 1/33 “Belfort” UAV squadron reached the milestone of 10,000 flight hours with the Harfang unmanned aircraft during the night of Feb 15-16 2014. The Harfang is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV designated Système Intérimaire de Drone MALE (SIDM) by the French military.

This is a major milestone in the history of the French air force’s unmanned aircraft, and more particularly for the 1/33 squadron. The aircraft which passed the 10,000 hour mark belongs to the “escadrille” SAL-33, the same unit to which belonged famed aviator and author Antoine de Saint Exupéry, and which marked its centenary this year.

These 10,000 flight hours constitute a significant experience and knowledge accrued during several foreign deployments in recent years. This milestone coincides with another, the 3,000th flight hour in support of Operation Serval in Mali.

Since their initial operational deployment in 2009, French air force SIDM Harfang drones have flown over 900 operational reconnaissance and intelligence missions, as well as surveillance and designation of targets for precision-guided weapons launched by other aircraft.

With the arrival of the Reaper, which has already been cleared for operations, the French air force has reinforced its support capabilities in the Sahel-Saharan region, thanks to these ISR (Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) unmanned aircraft.