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03:37 PM, March 30, 2018
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French Air Force’s Reaper Drones Complete 20,000 Flight Hour Milestone
French Air Force’s Reaper Drones Completes 20,000 Flight Hour Milestone. (FR MoD photo)

The French air force’s MQ-9 Reaper drones passed the symbolic 20,000 flight hour milestone. 

On the proposed Niamey airbase, 25 airmen deploy five Reaper drones. 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. 

"Given the vastness of the Sahel-Saharan theater, the ISR capacity of the Reaper drones is at the core of aviation operations, and complements other sensors," said the detachment commander. "The valuable information they provide allows for very accurate intelligence and provides a unique capability in the French forces to immediately analyze information. This advantage allows decision-makers to redirect actions in real time. "The Reaper has definitely replaced its predecessor, the Harfang drone, and is now a key and essential part of BSS operations," he concluded. 

Deployed since January 2014 in Niamey, the Reaper drone crews reinforce the surveillance, intelligence and intervention capabilities of the Barkhane Force. 

Led by the French armed forces, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on August 1, 2014. It is based on a strategic approach and a partnership with the main countries of the Sahel-Saharan Strip (BSS): Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina-Faso. 

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