France’s Reaper fleet stationed in Niger has accumulated 20 000 flight hours in support of Operation Barkhane.
The French defence ministry on 30 March said the milestone comes since the Reapers were deployed in January 2014 in Niamey, Niger.
France launched Operation Barkhane on 1 August 2014 to combat terrorism and assist partner nations’ militaries in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.
It currently has five Reapers and 25 aircrew deployed in Niamey. Pilots, sensor operators, tactical coordinators, image operators and mechanics take turns 24 hours a day to provide the necessary information to the various command posts and decision-making authorities to conduct and plan operations. They support the 4 000 personnel involved in Operation Barkhane.
“After several years of sustained increase of this new ISR (intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance) capability in the Air Force, the drone detachment of the Barkhane force is today an essential element of the French military apparatus in the Sahel,” the French defence ministry said.
The Reapers replace Harfang UAVs.