The U.S. Department of Defense today awarded General Atomics $79.42 million for the France MQ-9 Block 5 aircraft procurement program.
Work will be performed in Poway, California, and is expected to be completed by March 29, 2024. This contract involves 100% Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to France.
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.