The Pentagon notified the US Congress on 27 June of a possible foreign military sale to France of 16 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft and associate accoutrements for an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.

"France requests these capabilities to provide for the defense of its deployed troops, regional security, and interoperability with the US," says the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). "The proposed sale will improve France's capability to meet current and future threats by providing improved ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] coverage that promotes increased battlefield situational awareness, anticipates enemy intent, augments combat search and rescue, and provides ground troop support."

According to a DSCA release the French government requests a "possible sale" of 16 MQ-9s along with eight mobile ground control stations (GCS) and 48 Honeywell TPE331-10T turboprop engines. Of the 48 engines, 16 would be installed while the remaining 32 are spares. France would also like to purchase 24 satellite terminal substations and 40 ground data terminals for the aircraft.

The French MQ-9 aircraft would be equipped with General Atomics Lynx synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) systems and Raytheon AN/DAS-1 multi-spectral targeting systems-B (MTS-B).

Any sale would also include spare parts, test, and support equipment, DSCA says. Additionally, France would be provided with publications and technical documentation, airworthiness and maintenance and training support. The US government would also help with site surveys and logistics.

General Atomics officials could not immediately comment on the Congressional notification.

Source: Flight International