> our title:

French Reaper UAVs Pass 2,000 Flight Hours

> original title:

Barkhane: French Air Force’s Reaper UAVs Pass 2,000 Flight Hours

(Source: French air force; issued Nov 07, 2014)

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

On October 30, 2014, less than 10 months after its first flight and commissioning, the detachment Reaper has passed the 2000 flight hour milestone.

After a gradual building up of this new ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capability, the Air Force on January 16, 2014 launched intelligence missions to support operations in Mali and Niger, supporting first Operation Serval and then Operation Barkhane, and their rhythm has grown at an extremely rapid pace.

The crew, consisting of pilot/operators as well as intelligence officers and image analysts, are heavily involved well in advance of combat operations to prepare the Operational Area Intelligence file, the Reaper drones also provide, from the time the operation begins, a permanent monitoring and oversight from a continuous orbit with drones flying shifts of up to a hundred flight hours. They support offensive operation phases, especially during the engagement of air power and of ground troops. Crews also provide real-time analysis of strikes to inform decision-makers and thus to redirect the action.

The two MQ-9 Reapers and the crews of the 1/33 “Belfort” squadron crews have in recent months clearly demonstrated the added value of an operational MALE (medium altitude long endurance) UAV system, which is an efficient and modern key element providing ISR support in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

Deployed in addition to the Harfang drones and other ISR assets, the Reapers contribute fully to the overall sensor operation in support of the Force Barkhane.

About 3000 French soldiers are currently deployed on Malian soil and pursue their mission against armed terrorist groups, while in parallel supporting the rise of the MINUSMA (UN peacekeeping—Ed) and FAMA (Malian) forces.