The receipt of an application to purchase 16 drones by France Congress
It is officially 16 MQ9 Reaper drones that France has asked to buy the United States. Evidenced by the press release (PDF, English) Agency security cooperation and U.S. Defense (DSCA), published Thursday, June 27, announcing he notifies the Congress French request. This door and, on paper, over 1.5 billion dollars (1.1 billion euros). This is an overall package, and the final order does represent a part.
The operation is done according to the procedure of Foreign military sales (FMS), sales from state to state, which must be approved by Congress. These are sort of "super export licenses," and the amount is usually overestimated, if only to avoid multiple passes before Congress. Remains to actually close the sale with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the conditions desired by Paris: the army wants to have effect frequency and sensors on the U.S. national platform to keep a sovereign use of drones. American appliances may also not fly in Europe, where regulations prohibited for the time integration into the airspace.
The DSCA justified the sale by the fact that "France is one of the major political and economic powers in Europe and NATO and an ally of the United States." Thus, the statement, "it is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist France to develop and maintain a high capacity and reactive defense." The sale, to meet the agency will allow the French army to strengthen its intelligence capabilities and surveillance in military coalition operations, and "enhance interoperability between U.S. and French forces."
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The Reaper is MQ9 armable version of Predator. Paris wants to use it for monitoring purposes only. The requisition of 16 drones (or less) also covers a variety of equipment, training services, logistics support, the statement of the agency. In the list of applications included eight ground stations, sophisticated radars capable of detecting slow ground targets, satellite links, GPS systems and other radios.
The French Ministry of Defence initially refused to say how he wished to acquire Reaper, before discussing the number of 12 to 670 million euros. The White Paper on Defence provides for the acquisition of 12 drones medium altitude long endurance effect. After twenty years of political vacillations and infighting between industry, France has lagged far behind in this area. The issue appears with the purchase of American equipment "off the shelf", is in a hurry to fill a capability gap. "We must overcome our French failure in the shortest possible time", said Jean-Yves Le Drian before going on May 17 in Washington, get the green light from the Pentagon.
First three Reaper apparatus provided for the U.S. Air Force that would extract production lines at General Atomics, should be deployed in the Sahel by the end of the year, as desired Paris. For the following, the "French language" is still under negotiation. French manufacturers have equipment (radar or targeting) they could put on board after development. On the other hand, the army wants to install an automatic landing system that is not available in the U.S. system and autonomous satellite links.
It was not until the next generation of drones to have a French or European equipment. Paris has asked manufacturers to agree to propose a solution for 2020.
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