France to deploy first American-made MQ-9 Reaper UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in Mali 2612131

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Defence & Security News - France

 
 
Thursday, December 26, 2013 09:57 AM
 
France to deploy first American-made MQ-9 Reaper UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in Mali.
France will deploy its first U.S.-made unmanned surveillance drones MQ-9 Reaper to West Africa by the end of the year, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said last week, as it seeks to "eliminate all traces of al Qaeda". France's military intervention in Mali in January exposed its shortage of surveillance drones suitable for modern warfare, forcing it to rely on the United States to provide French commanders with intelligence from drones based in neighbouring Niger.
     
France will deploy its first U.S.-made unarmed surveillance drones MQ-9 Reaper to West Africa by the end of the year, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday, as it seeks to "eliminate all traces of al Qaeda". France's military intervention in Mali in January exposed its shortage of surveillance drones suitable for modern warfare, forcing it to rely on the United States to provide French commanders with intelligence from drones based in neighbouring Niger.
The MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle taxis into Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, March 13 marking the first operational airframe of its kind to land here.
     

In July 2013, France has requested to buy 16 General Atomics-made MQ-9 Reaper UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicles from the U.S. government through a potential $1.5 billion foreign military sales agreement.

France intends for the remotely-piloted aircraft to support military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and to help coordinate between U.S and French military and peacekeeping forces.

Niger gave permission in January for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in the region.

French forces killed 19 Islamist fighters during security operations in Mali's northern region of Timbuktu earlier this month.

France intervened in Mali at the start of the year as Islamist forces, who seized control of the north in the confusion following a military coup in March 2012, pushed towards the capital Bamako.

Their advance lifted Mali to the forefront of U.S. and European security concerns, with fears the Islamists would turn the country into a base for international attacks.

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (formerly named Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force.

The typical MQ-9 system is composed of multiple aircraft, ground-control stations, satellites, and flight and maintenance crews. The aircraft is powered by a 950 horsepower turboprop, with a maximum speed of about 483 km/h and a cruising speed of 315 km/h. With a 20 m wingspan, and a maximum payload of 1,700 kg, the MQ-9 can be armed with a variety of weaponry, including Hellfire missiles and 500-lb laser-guided bomb units

 

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