France deploys first two Reapers to Niger
The medium altitude long endurance Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles have been delivered to the Niger Air Force. Visiting the Sahel region, the [French] Minister of Defence was able to inspect their installation.
A first system of MQ-9 (Block 1) Reaper drones has been delivered to the French Air Force and deployed in the Sahel region. A system consists of two unmanned aircraft and a ground control station. Traveling to Niger recently, the Defence Minister JeanYves Le Drian was able to inspect their installation before the detachment becomes fully operational in January.
The arrival of this first UAV system is a result of the priority given to intelligence in the White Paper on Defense and National Security that was approved by the President of the Republic on April 29, 2013. The 201419 military programme law provides for the purchase of four UAV systems, for a total of 12 unmanned aircraft. They will complement the Harfang drones that are already operating in various theaters.
Decided by the Minister of Defence, this acquisition is intended to make up for the delay in drone capabilities that France had accumulated in recent years.
It was in August 2013 that the US administration gave its consent, allowing France to begin the process of acquiring of two medium altitude long endurance (MALE) Reaper drones. Since then, the first six pilots and sensor operators have been trained.
France thus reinforces its significant intelligence capabilities in this part of Africa. These drones will provide surveillance and control over large areas and intelligence against terrorist formations.