> our title:

France Lifts Lid on UAV Operations in Mali

> original title:

Operation Serval: Zoom on the Harfang UAV Detachment

(Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued Feb. 8, 2013)

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

France has deployed Harfang MALE UAVs to support troops fighting Islamist extremists in Mali. The drone has previously been used in Afghanistan and Libya. (French MoD photo)

Since January, a detachment of Harfang MALE unmanned aerial vehicles is engaged in Operation Serval, France’s intervention in Mali. Its mission is to provide drone support to military operations.

Crews and mechanics of drones Squadron 1/33 "Belfort," who operate the Harfang drones, carried out their first operational mission over Mali on 18 January 2013.

Harfang performs intelligence-gathering missions in direct support to deployed ground forces. Thus, it is under the watchful eye and protective eye of the drone that the cities of Douentza and Gao were taken over. This was also the case when the airborne troops jumped on Timbuktu. Perfectly integrated into ground and air operations, the drone also cooperates with aircraft of the Air Force and Navy operating over Malian territory.

The Harfang MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) drone offers a remarkable persistence in the area of operations, carrying out sorties that routinely exceed 20 hours, with a record flight of over 26 hours being flown on the night of January 25 to 26.

Now an indispensable tool of modern military operations, the UAV can, thanks to its persistence and the quality of its sensors, provide ground force commanders with quality battlefield intelligence, and a clear vision of the operational situation.

After Afghanistan and Libya, the Sahel desert is the 3rd theater on which have been deployed crews and mechanics of ED 1/33 Belfort, the French air force unit that operates this unique asset.