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.
According to a French MoD’s statement, MQ-9A Reaper Reaper came down around 01:00 hrs (Paris time) in a remote desert location near Niamey air base in Niger.
The UAV crashed in a desert area a few kilometers from the road, without causing any casualties. The exact reasons for this accident are not known.
An investigation to determine the causes is open. This is the first accident of a French MQ-9A Reaper UAV, since its commissioning in January 2014 in the Air Force. The Reaper UAVs have flown more than 23,000 hours since being put into operational service.
The Reaper, a remotely piloted aircraft primarily designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance collection, can also perform close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike and other critical functions, making it an indispensable tool.
The MQ-9 model is designed by the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to eliminate man hours on assembly time and reduce security concerns.
According to the General Atomics, Reaper has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS(abbreviation for knots true airspeed, a unit of speed measurement), can operate up to 50,000 feet, and has a 3,850 pound (1746 kilogram) payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds (1361 kilograms) of external stores.
An extremely reliable aircraft, MQ-9 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.