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The U.S. State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to France of MQ-9 Communications Intelligence Sensor Pod Suites and related equipment.
The Government of France has requested to buy up to eight Communications Intelligence Sensor Pod Suites, that will be added to a previously implemented case. The original FMS case and amendments, valued at $71 million, included five Communications Intelligence Sensor Pod Suites, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a release.
Also included is ground handling equipment; spares and repair parts; consumables and accessories; secure communications and cryptographic devices; software and support services; publications and technical documentation; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
France’s MQ-9 aircraft fleet provides Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance that supports coalition operations.
The principal contractor will be BAE Systems, York, PA. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, San Diego, CA is on contract for integration work only.
A week earlier, France was cleared MQ-9 Follow-on Contractor Logistics Support and related equipment for an estimated cost of $300 million.
French Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Drones
The U.S. State Department approved the sale of 16 unarmed MQ-9s, associated equipment, ground control hardware, and support, worth up to $1.5 billion total. Although the Reapers were capable of carrying weapons back then, France had chosen earlier to not to arm them.
In January 2014, French Air Force took delivery of MQ-9 (Block 1) Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Reaper drones and deployed them at Niamey Air Base in Niger for border reconnaissance in the Sahel desert. These drones complemented Harfang drones that are already operating in various theaters.
By using optical and radar sensors to effect real-time monitoring, the range and endurance of the Reaper drones allowed the French forces to operate throughout the Sahel-Saharan strip.