The US Department of Defence (DoD) has selected General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) as the prime contractor for a foreign military sale (FMS) of additional MQ-9 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to France.
The company will undertake the work under the $43m contract at its facility in Poway, California.
The work is expected to be completed by 31 October 2017.
In June 2015, the company delivered a third Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper RPA to the French Air Force.
Two previous Reapers began operation in January last year.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a medium-to-high altitude, long-endurance UAS and is designed to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.
Reaper delivers increased battlefield situational awareness, enhances combat search and rescue, and provides ground troop support.
The aircraft has a maximum altitude of 50,000ft and is capable of staying aloft for up to 27 hours.
France is planning to bring a total of 12 aircraft into service by 2019.
Currently, pilots and sensor operators from Drone Squadron 1/33 ‘Belfort’, 709 Air Base Cognac-Château Bernard are conducting mission operations.
Since 2001, around 240 Predator B aircraft have accumulated more than one million flight hours.
Currently, the US Air Force and the UK Royal Air Force are using Predator B as MQ-9 Reaper, while the Italian Air Force terms it MQ-9.
Image: France is planning to bring 12 aircraft into service by 2019. Photo: courtesy of General Atomics.