France MQ-9A Reaper UAV crashed near the Niamey Air Base in Niger. The French Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle or remotely piloted aircraft has crashed near the Niamey Air Base in Niger on 17 November.
The Reaper UAV was returning to Niamey air base after a successful mission when ground controllers lost contact. The Reaper UAV is part of Barkhane Force. The UAV crashed in a desert area a few kilometers from the runway.
This is the first accident involved a French-operated Reaper UAV. The UAV entered French Air Force service in January 2014. So far, French-operated Reaper UAVs have flown more than 23,000 hours.
According to the French Army Staff, the drone crashed in a desert area near the Niamey Air Base runway, without harming anyone.
An investigation was opened to identify the reasons of the crash. Its operator reported lost contact with the drone.
In January 2014, six MQ-9 Reaper Block 1 UAVs were acquired at €75 million (approximately $86 million) per unit by the French military.
Four (including the one that crashed) are engaged in Mali and have been used for more than 23.000 hours by the French Air Force, carrying surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The other two are assigned to Cognac-Châteaubernard Air Base, France. This is the first accident affecting a French Reaper.
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.