French Air Force proves UAV ‘Reachback’ concept
A French Air Force Harfang unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been successfully controlled during flight in Sahel-Sahara region by crew at the Military Flight Test Centre in France. The test was part of efforts to prove the ‘Reachback’ concept, whereby a Harfang in overseas deployment can be successfully controlled from a cockpit located in France.
The one hour test flight saw UAV piloting functions transferred from the cockpit in Niger, where the UAV took off from, to the cockpit in Cognac almost 5,000km away. The UAV’s main sensor was also activated during the flight.
This new capability could enable an increased intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance capacity without leaving national territory, should it be required in the theatre of operations.
Harfang is a combat-proven Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) MALE UAS designed for reconnaissance and in-depth tracking operations in the battlefield. The current French Air Force fleet consists of four UAVs and three ground stations.
The French defence procurement agency DGA recently signed a contract with Airbus Defence and Space and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the upgrade of the French Air Force’s Harfang fleet, as well as for its on-condition maintenance until the end of 2017.
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