France plans to buy as many as 16 MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) officials told Congress.
The Reapers are included in a potentially $1.5 billion Foreign Military Sales package of vehicles, ground stations, training, spares and logistical support for the possible sale to the French Air Force, the DSCA officials said on Thursday.
The requirement, at least in the near term, is expected to number around 12 Reapers, with the first two delivered within months to urgently bolster surveillance capabilities in Mali, where France intervened earlier this year.
DSCA officials said the possible package also included eight mobile ground stations, 24 satellite earth terminal substations, 48 Honeywell turboprop engines, 40 General Atomics Lynx radars and a raft of other supporting systems.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been competing to supply its remotely piloted Heron aircraft to France and last week submitted a new offer in a last-ditch effort to save the deal going the way of the General Atomics-built Reaper.
The French Air Force presently operates just four Harfang medium-altitudes, long-endurance (MALE) platforms derived from the Heron.
Earlier this week, General Atomics launched a company-funded research and development effort to enable the remotely piloted vehicle to meet NATO and European airworthiness standard.
Neal Blue, General Atomics chairman and CEO, said the company had taken the move because, “It is imperative that we ensure airworthiness certification of Predator B [Reaper] at home and abroad as coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan and nations transition mission focus to protection of the homeland and other civil uses.”
The General Atomics move comes hard on the heels of a controversial decision by Germany to cancel a major Global Hawk deal with Northrop Grumman due to certification difficulties, according to Defense News.
The Reaper’s threatened dominance of the European MALE market was partly responsible for triggering a public letter from Dassault Aviation, EADS Cassidian and Finmeccanica to governments in the region urging them to collaborate in developing a rival platform.
The French air forces MQ-9 Reaper drones passed the symbolic 20,000 flight hour milestone. On the proposed Niamey airbase, 25 airmen deploy five Reaper drones
General Atomics has been awarded $117 million contract for the MQ-9 Accelerated Extended Range effort which will field 38 MQ-9 Extended Range aircraft. Work is expected to be completed by July 7, 2016
The French Air Force took delivery of MQ-9 (Block 1) Reaper drones deployed in the Sahel region on January 1, 2014. 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 29 April 2013
The Netherlands will buy a handful of MQ-9 Reaper drones made by San Diego-based General Atomics, according to news reports. The head of the countrys ministry of defense, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, wrote to parliament on Nov
The Dutch defence ministry is buying four US unmanned aircraft, MQ-9 Reaper, at a cost of up to €250 million, to be operational by the end of 2017, defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told parliament in a statement on Thursday. The drones can also carry weapons but the Netherlands does not need that capacity at present, a ministry spokesman told Nos television later
Exelis has been awarded a $20.6 million contract by General Atomics to produce the BRU-71/A ejector rack for the Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft
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