France de­ploys first two Reapers to Niger

SP's MAI - - UNMANNED -

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.

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