The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) has placed an order for a fourth MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The order was placed by the French Ministry of Defence to meet the objectives of the 2014-2019 Military Planning Act.

Under the provisions of this Act, the French Air Force will have four complete systems, each comprising three unmanned aircraft, by the end of 2019.

Two Reaper UAVs have already been delivered to France in December last year, with the third one arriving soon at Cognac air base.

Upon arriving, the Reaper system will undergo testing conducted by the air force and DGA.

The test will validate the Reaper system's air-transportability onboard French transport aircraft, as well as technical conditions for its operation in the electromagnetic environment of Cognac air base.

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France will use the third drone to train personnel of the 1/33 Belfort squadron.

The medium altitude, long-endurance drones are capable of performing intelligence, surveillance, recognition and target designation missions.

"France will use the third drone to train personnel of the 1/33 Belfort squadron."

Built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the MQ-9 Reaper has an endurance of more than 27 hours and can operate at heights of up to 50,000ft.

Powered by Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, the UAV is capable of carrying multiple mission payloads, including electro-optical/infrared, Lynx multi-mode radar, multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, electronic support measures, laser designators, and various weapons packages.

The remotely piloted or fully autonomous aircraft is equipped with triple-redundant flight control system and redundant flight control surfaces.

Image: MQ-9 Reaper. Photo: courtesy of Gerald L Nino.