France Orders Additional Reaper Block 5 UAV

France has agreed to procure an additional MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 unmanned aerial vehicle via the U.S. government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channel. The $79.42 million contract, announced on June 28 by the Pentagon, calls for General Atomic Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) to complete its work by March 29, 2024.

France currently fields six Reaper Block 1 and six Reaper Block 5 UAVs. It is seeking to add an additional six Block 5 variants to its inventory, with the latter to be armed with GBU-12 Paveway precision-guided bombs and AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. These systems will also be equipped with an FMS pod for electronic intelligence gathering.

In 2011, France began looking for a platform to serve as a capability bridge medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) surveillance UAV. The government finally settled on the MQ-9 Reaper in 2013, which was the French military’s preferred option.

An FMS agreement was  announced on June 27, 2013, calling for the potential purchase of 16 Reapers, eight mobile ground stations, and associated equipment, parts, training, and logistical support, all of which came to an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.

France ordered its 12 current Reapers in four batches, each consisting of three UAVs and two ground control systems. The first two batches were in Block 1 version, while the third and fourth were in Block 5. The earlier variants will be upgraded to Block 5 standard, thus allowing them to be flown in Europe.

The procurement of Reaper MALE surveillance drones was originally intended to provide France with an interim bridge while the French collaborated with the British on the development of a new-generation MALE UAV solution intended for introduction between 2020 and 2025. Instead, that project foundered and eventually ended when Dassault confirmed in February 2019 that work had ceased.

Instead, France’s long-term MALE UAV solution may come from a multinational Franco-German-Italian-Spanish EuroMALE Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) initiative under development. France has committed to the purchase of eight EuroMALE RPASs through 2030.

Forecast International’s Unmanned Vehicles Forecast – Airborne Systems provides worldwide coverage of airborne unmanned vehicles, from the globe-trotting Global Hawk to the deadly Reaper, and covers the individual markets for reconnaissance UAVs and aerial targets. It also includes a section on the use of UAVs for civilian applications, ranging from environmental cleanup and forest monitoring to agricultural activity such as crop spraying and crop monitoring. Production will increase substantially over the next 10 years, with commercial systems expected to account for the lion’s share.   An annual subscription includes approximately 70 individual reports, most with a 10-year unit production forecast. Product comes complete with two Market Segment Analyses, covering the markets for  UAV Reconnaissance Systems  and Aerial Targets. Pricing begins at $2,295, with discounted full-library subscriptions available. Click here to learn more.

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is Forecast International’s International Military Markets Group Leader. Specializing in history and political science with a background in finance and economics, Dan provides insight into the military markets of both the Europe and the Asia, Australia and Pacific Rim regions. Dan's work has been cited in Aerospace and Defense News, Aerotech News and Review, Defense Talk, Global Defense Review, and Small Wars Journal, among others, and by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. In addition, Dan has been quoted in Arabian Business, the Financial Times, Flight International, The National, Bloomberg and National Defense Magazine. He has also contributed commentary to Defense News and appeared as a guest on the online radio show Midrats and on The Media Line. As editor of International Military Markets, Europe and International Military Markets, Asia, Australia & Pacific Rim, Dan brings a wealth of expertise on the political and economic forces shaping these markets.

View all posts by Daniel Darling →