France’s Ministry of Armed Forces announced on Tuesday that one of its MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 drones successfully executed its first airstrike in an “operational setting.”
The live-fire simulation took place on August 17. It involved the French Air and Space Force (AAE), using the Reaper to drop a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb in Africa’s Sahel region. The ministry did not specify where exactly the exercise took place.
The AAE describes the Reaper 5 as a drone with “better video and radar quality, improved connectivity, as well as a more versatile weapon capacity.”
In future tests, the Reaper 5 is expected to carry the GBU 49 and Hellfire missiles.
The Reaper 5
Used primarily by the United States Air Force, the MQ-9 Reaper 5 is manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. However, the surveillance and attack drone has been purchased for deployment by partner countries including Australia, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.
According to France’s ministry, the Reaper 5 “makes it possible to obtain better synergy between the crews and increased coordination between the various players, especially during the shooting passes.”
The drone also features significantly enhanced real-time intelligence gathering capacity.
An MQ-9 Reaper 5 is operated by a remote pilot, sensor operator, and a Mission Intelligence Coordinator.