France Seeks US, Israeli Imports to Upgrade Aging Drone Fleet

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Pymouss

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Pymouss

France is seeking to buy reconnaissance drones from the United States and Israel, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on Sunday.

According to Le Monde, France has already received clearance from the Pentagon to buy two Reaper drones. Now it is up to Congress to approve the sale. The newspaper reported that France hopes to eventually buy five to seven of the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

Reapers are built by the private firm General Atomics. France is looking to buy the drones for 300 million Euros each ($378.72 million).

With the French military taking a more active role overseas, it has become clear that its intelligence-gathering technology is badly outdated. France is looking to close that gap by upgrading its drone fleet. Currently, Israel and the U.S. are the only countries in the world that manufacture drones.

During the recent intervention in Mali, French forces relied heavily on intelligence gathered by US drones operated from Niger. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, experiences in Mali have exposed the technological shortcomings of France’s current drone fleet.

Speaking to the TV channel iTele, Le Drian said that the purchase of foreign-made drones was meant to be only a short-term measure. He said that France would eventually need to manufacture its own military drones.

France is famously wary of accepting foreign military support, even from its allies. The country seeks to be as self-sufficient as possible in national defense, and importing military hardware is a politically sensitive subject.

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