> our title:

France Deploys Its Third Reaper UAV to Niger

> original title:

Operation Barkhane: Third Reaper Drone Arrives

(Source: French air force; issued May 9, 2015)

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

On 7 May 2015, the Armée de l’air received a third Reaper drone. It was deployed directly to Niamey, Niger, with the Barkhane Force.

This third Reaper supplements the existing French drone squadron, composed of two Harfang drones and two Reaper drones, operated by the 1/33 “Belfort” drone squadron stationed in Cognac.

Since their arrival in theater, the Reaper drones have logged more than 4,000 flying hours.

This latest aircraft should be operational in a matter of days.

The MQ-9 Reaper MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) drone arrived in the Sahelo-Saharan theater in December 2014. Indispensable on a theatre of operations as large as Europe, the Reaper drones have demonstrated their usefulness and performance by achieving all operations and intelligence in support of the Barkhane Force. Complementary to other air assets, it enables in particular a permanent aerial overwatch for periods of up to nearly 24 hours.

Alternating pre-planned missions with operations of opportunity, drones are present in every phase of operations to support land and air forces. The valuable information they provide enables units to understand and remain aware of the environment in which they will operate and the threats they will face.

Operation Barkhane includes 3 000 troops whose mission, in partnership with the countries of the Sahel G5, is to fight against the armed terrorist groups in the Sahel-Saharan strip.