10,000 flight hours of Har­fang drone


De­ployed to sup­port French op­er­a­tional in Mali since Jan­uary 17, 2013, the French Air Force’s 1/33 “Belfort” UAV squadron reached the mile­stone of 10,000 flight hours with the Har­fang un­manned air­craft dur­ing the night of Fe­bru­ary 15-16, 2014. The Har­fang is a medium-al­ti­tude, long-en­durance (MALE) UAV des­ig­nated Système In­téri­maire de Drone MALE (SIDM) by the French mil­i­tary.

This is a ma­jor mile­stone in the his­tory of the French Air Force’s un­manned air­craft, and more par­tic­u­larly for the 1/33 squadron. The air­craft which passed the 10,000 hour mark be­longs to the “es­cadrille” SAL-33, the same unit to which be­longed famed avi­a­tor and au­thor An­toine de Saint Ex­upéry, and which marked its cen­te­nary this year.

These 10,000 flight hours con­sti­tute a sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge ac­crued dur­ing sev­eral for­eign de­ploy­ments in re­cent years. This mile­stone co­in­cides with an­other, the 3,000th flight hour in sup­port of Oper­a­tion Ser­val in Mali.

Since their ini­tial op­er­a­tional de­ploy­ment in 2009, French Air Force SIDM Har­fang drones have flown over 900 op­er­a­tional re­con­nais­sance and in­tel­li­gence mis­sions, as well as sur­veil­lance and des­ig­na­tion of tar­gets for pre­ci­sion-guided weapons launched by other air­craft.

With the ar­rival of the Reaper, which has al­ready been cleared for op­er­a­tions, the French Air Force has re­in­forced its sup­port ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the Sa­hel-Sa­ha­ran re­gion, thanks to these ISR (In­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, re­con­nais­sance) un­manned air­craft. SP

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