PARIS --- On 5 December 2016, the Direction Générale pour l’Armement (DGA) ordered a fourth MALE (medium altitude, long endurance) Reaper unmanned aircraft system. The 2014-2019 Military Planning Act (LPM) provides that the air force will have, by 2019, four complete systems, each comprising 3 unmanned aircraft.
The order of this fourth system of Reaper drones thus allows the ministry to meet the objectives of this Act. Delivery will take place in 2019.
The second system has been approved by the DGA. Two drones were delivered on 31 December in Niamey. The 3rd drone will soon arrive at Cognac air base, where it will be used in particular for the training of personnel of the 1/33 Belfort squadron which operates France’s MALE drones.
On arrival, the Air Force and the DGA will conduct a test campaign to validate the Reaper system's air-transportability on board French transport aircraft, mainly the A400M, as well as technical conditions for its operation in the electromagnetic environment of Cognac air base, and more generally the territory of metropolitan France.
MALE drones are essential tools in areas of modern conflict, offering a major capacity in terms of knowledge and anticipation. They are able to carry out intelligence, surveillance, recognition and target designation missions and are capable of operating, thanks to their endurance, over large areas, long distances and long durations.