First French Reapers delivered to Niger
Written by Guy Martin, Monday, 13 January 2014
An Antonov An-124 transport aircraft delivered the two UAVs and a ground control station to Niamey, where they are operated by Drone Squadron 1/33 Belfort. Traveling to Niger on January 1, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian inspected the squadron and their new equipment.
The Reapers are complementing the Harfang UAVs that are already operating in various theatres – France has deployed EADS Harfangs to Niger since January 17, 2013, in support of operations in neighbouring Mali and these have logged over 2 000 hours.
Following the Reaper delivery, “France thus reinforces its significant intelligence capabilities in this part of Africa,” the French defence ministry said. “These drones will provide surveillance and control over large areas and intelligence against terrorist formations.”
France has ordered four systems comprising twelve Reaper aircraft, which will make up for the delay in UAV capabilities that France has accumulated in recent years – delivery of the first two MQ-9As was expedited due to urgent need for them for Operation Serval in Mali. The remaining Reapers will only be delivered in 2015 or 2016.
READ MORENigerian commissions new UAV
Niger\'s president says Libya risks becoming like Somalia
French Air Force
The United States approved the Reaper sale in August last year, followed by acceptance of the aircraft in December 18/19. Six pilots and sensor operators have been trained so far, with training taking place in California, Texas and New Mexico.
Although the General Atomics MQ-9 can be armed, France has chosen not to arm its aircraft and is instead using its optical and radar sensors to detect targets of interest across the Sahel and Sahara.
France has 2 500 troops deployed in Mali to stabilise the country but this will be reduced to 1 600 in February. French President Francois Hollande earlier this month said that the primary objectives of the mission there have been accomplished but due to ongoing security concerns, France will keep 1 000 troops in the country.
France has also reduced the number of other assets in Mali – last month it withdrew some of its fighters from Mali and redeployed three Mirage 2000Ds and a C-135FR tanker from Bamako to N’Djamena, Chad. Also stationed at N’Djamena are three Rafales and two C-135FRs, which are supporting operations in Chad, Mali and the Central African Republic.
Top stories this week
- Another three Chinese fishing trawlers escorted into a SA port
- Navy plays major role in impounding 600 tons of squid and other fish as well as foreign trawlers
- Shoke slams Tempe’s sleeping sentries
- UK defence companies seeking partnerships in South Africa
- Landward forces will be well represented at this year’s AAD
- Egyptian court cancels jail terms for 47 over island protests
- Algeria troops kill six armed Islamists in east
- EgyptAir jet sent smoke-alarm warnings before crash
- Egyptian military finds debris of crashed airliner
- Egypt seeking Harpoon missiles
- Egyptian court jails 152 people over islands protest
- Egypt receiving MRAPs from the United States
- Indonesia to buy Airbus A400M military transport planes: minister
- Algerian army kills seven Islamist fighters east of capital
- U.S. envoy targets Egypt at U.N. over journalist arrests
Thales to build "Cyber Range", cyber security training, testing facility for Dutch Defence Cyber Command
by Thales, 23 May 2016
The cyber security training and testing facility for the Dutch Defence Cyber Command will be used to train its personnel.
Saab unveils first Gripen E
by Saab, 16 May 2016
The launch of the Gripen E test aircraft will take place at Saab's facilities in Linköping.
Paramount Group expands innovative industrial partnerships throughout Middle East
by Paramount Group, 12 May 2016
The African defence company and Jordanian partners have started the production of armoured fighting vehicles in Jordan.