French Reaper drone conducts first operational strike in Mali

The French Air Force MQ-9 Reaper (Block 5 standard) Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle has carried out a drone strike during counter-terror operations in Mali.

This is the first time a French military MQ-9 Reaper drone is used in an airstrike.

The counter-terror operation which began on Friday, 20 December, in the central Malian region of Mopti, has killed than 40 terrorists including seven killed by the drone strike, the French military says.

In a statement, the French military said the drone strike was part of a follow-up operation which began on Saturday, 28 December.

During the operation, French soldiers patrolling Ouagadou forest, 150 kilometres from the town of Mopti, were attacked by a group of terrorists on motorbikes, so a Reaper drone and a French Mirage 2000 were deployed to provide ground support to the troops.

“This is the first operational strike by an armed drone,” the statement said.

The drone strike came just two days after the French military announced it had successfully completed weapons test on the MQ-9 Reaper drone.

The French military has three operational drone base near Niamey, the capital of Niger. Three MQ-9 Reaper drones has been deployed to the Sahel in support of Operation Barkhane since 2016.

Since the start of the Sahel crises in 2013, France has deployed a 4,500-member force which has been fighting jihadists in the region, Forty-one soldiers have since been killed.

Ekene Lionel

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