> our title:

Reaper Drone Sets New French Endurance Record

> original title:

Operation Barkhane: Reaper Drone Sets New Endurance Record

(Source: French air force; issued Oct 30, 2015)

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

One of the French air force’s three Reaper drones overflying Africa’s Sahel-Saharan band, where most of its missions take place in support of Operation Barkhane. (French AF photo)

At the end of October 2015, the Reaper UAV set a new endurance record by carrying out a flight that lasted 25 hours and 6 minutes. Since January 2014, as part of Operations Serval, then Barkhane, these drones have operated as part of the Niamey air detachment to reinforce the force’s surveillance and intelligence capabilities.

In order to overcome the geographical constraints related to the vastness of the Sahelo-Saharan theater, France deployed Reaper and Harfang drones to Niamey. Their capabilities in terms of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance form the core of aviation missions, and also complement other sensors.

The Reaper MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) drone has the unique ability to carry out very long duration flights that enable the provision of near-permanent aerial presence. Since their arrival in Niger in January 2014, Reapers have flown operational missions at a high tempo, allowing transmission of real-time intelligence to command posts and to forces deployed on the ground.

"In late October, as part of a long-endurance mission for Barkhane monitoring a designated area of interest, a Reaper set a new record by flying for over 25 hours and 6 minutes of flight time. The previous record, set in December 2014, was 24 hours and 30 minutes," said Lieutenant Colonel Richard (this is his first name—Ed.) who took part in this mission as a pilot.

The three teams from the air force’s Belfort 01.33 UAV squadron are composed of aircrew, intelligence officers and image interpreters. Much called upon, they take turns at the controls of the three Reapers that provide persistent aerial surveillance missions that can last as long as five days.

As part of Operation Barkhane, the Reapers have logged over 5,200 flight hours. Their high transit speed and the quality of images taken by their sensors have become an undeniable asset for intelligence support missions to operations against terrorism conducted by the Barkhane force.

Operation Barkhane includes 3,500 military whose mission, with the G5 Sahel countries, is to fight against terrorist armed groups that can act in Africa’s Sahel-Saharan belt.