A French Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft has crashed near the Niamey Air Base in Niger on Nov. 17, the Ministry of the Armed Forces said in a statement.
The statement said that contact with the drone was lost at around 1:00 am Paris Time when it was returning from a mission. The drone crashed in a desert area a few kilometers from the track, without causing any casualties. The exact reasons for this accident are not known.
France has opened an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.
This is the first accident of a French Reaper drone, since its deployment to the Sahel-Saharan region in January 2014. The drones were based at Niamey Air Base in Niger and were used for border reconnaissance in the Sahel desert supporting Operation Barkhane, an ongoing anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region, which commenced in August 2014.
The French Reaper drones have flown more than 23,000 hours since being put into operational service.
General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper (also called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.
The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF to indicate their human ground controllers.
The MQ-9 are capable of being armed with a variety of weapons including the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb (LGB), the AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles (AGM), the AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile (AAM), and the GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Tests are underway to allow for the addition of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missile.