On 8 May 2024, French Air and Space Force deployed two Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Reaper Drones to protect French national territory as part of special air security arrangements over the 1945 victory commemorations in Paris and the arrival of the Olympic flame in Marseille.

Reaper drone operations are often kept away from public view to protect the security of the systems. 

Observers will be interested to see the announcement from France’s Ministry of Defence detailing the use of the drones from the 33rd Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Attack Wing (ESRA) being operated from Cognac air base, after taking off from two separate air bases earlier in the day. 

The two drones were operated by a crew of four Airmen based in Cognac, while their operational control was directed by air defence and air operations command located at Air Base 942 in Lyon-Mont Verdun.

The first Reaper took off from its home-base in Cognac, Charente-Maritime, to enter the Parisian skies and ensure surveillance during the 1945 Vicrtory commemorative ceremony.

The second Reaper was deployed from Air Base 126 in Solenzara, Corsica, to contribute to the security of the arrival of the Olympic flame. 

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The Air and Space Force operation was made possible by the temporary establishment of a Reaper detachment to Air Base 126 in Solenzara, inline with the ‘Morane’ concept of reactive and minimal deployment in personnel and equipment. According to the French Ministry of Defence release, a total of 16 Airmen in Corsica and 20 in Cognac directly contributed to this aerial security mission.

The two special air security arrangements, known as dispositifs particuliers de sureté aérienne (DPSA), form protective bubbles intended to prevent malicious acts from the air, and during this occasion was spread across more than 700km of French national territory.