> our title:

French Reaper Makes First Flight In National Airspace

> original title:

First Reaper Flight In France

(Source: French air force; issued July 6, 2017)

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

This first flight in French airspace has demonstrated that the French air force is now able to autonomously train its Reaper crews, making it independent from third-party support. (French AF photo)

Taking off from Cognac air base, the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft n° 612 made its first flight over national territory on Tuesday July 4, 2017. During 5 hours and 10 minutes, one of Drone Squadron 1/33 "Belfort’s" unmanned aircraft flew around the airspace north of the base, where it has been stationed for just a few weeks.

The main objective was to test the operation of the aircraft and of its two operator cabins (calibration of emergency parameters, verification of satellite links, etc.) and to extend LRE (Launch and Recovery Element) qualifications to land the Reaper.

These objectives were attained, and the "Belfort" squadron will now be able to operate the Reaper over metropolitan France on a daily basis, and thus giving the Air Force the increased autonomy of being able to train its own crews. By 2019, the Drone Squadron 1/33 will have twelve aircraft, operated by 30 crews.

Including Reaper No. 612, six aircraft are now operational at 1/33 "Belfort". The other five aircraft in the fleet are positioned at the expeditionary air base in Niamey, Niger. They provide intelligence and support capabilities to Operation Barkhane, but also to the Special Forces. Since their involvement in the Sub-Saharan Band began in January 2014, they have already completed over 15,000 flying hours.

The next few days will be busy for Reaper crews stationed in Cognac. Numerous missions are already noted in their shelves, starting with their participation in the particular air security system (DPSA) of the 14 July military parade in Paris.

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