The French Air Force has concluded a multi-national close air support training exercise, code-named Serpentex 2016, at Corsica, France.
The annual exercise was aimed at enhancing coordination between intelligence, aircrew and JTAC of the NATO Allies’ air forces.
The exercise involved the deployment of French Air Force’s Harfang unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), for the transmission of crucial information to the command centre.
Harfang UAV also guided the fighters during simulated firings.
The drones, which entered operational service in June 2008 as a supplement to French RQ-5 Hunter UAV, flew their first mission in civil airspace.
The exercise witnessed participation from the US Air Force’s (USAF) B-52s along with French fighters to support joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) from several Nato nations, as well as those from Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Powered by a single four-stroke liquid air-cooled Rotax 914 F turbocharged engine, the Harfang is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV designed to carry out strategic reconnaissance and tracking missions in the battlefield.
Derived from Israel Aerospace Industries-built Eagle 1 / Heron TP platform, the Harfang can be controlled either manually from the GCS or autonomously, and is integrated with a remote operations video enhanced receiver (ROVER) transmission system to broadcast video imagery in real-time to ground troops.
The Reaper drones fleet, which are successors to Harfang, already logged in total more than 9,000 operational flight hours following their commissioning in February 2014.