General Atomics to deliver additional MQ-9 UAVs to France

20 January 2016 (Last Updated January 20th, 2016 18:30)

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.

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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.

"Reaper delivers increased battlefield situational awareness, enhances combat search and rescue, and provides ground troop support."

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.