A French MQ-9 Reaper Block 1 armed drone suffered a technical incident during a surveillance mission over the so-called three-border region, at the borders of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
The incident was revealed on Twitter by the French General Staff on May 5, 2022. The drone was preparing to land at Diori Hamani International Airport (NIM) in Niamey, Niger.
Barkhane | Hier, un drone armé type Block 1 a conduit une mission de surveillance dans la zone des Trois frontières. A la fin de la mission, alors qu’il se trouvait en phase d’approche de la piste de Niamey, un incident technique a bloqué son train d’atterrissage. pic.twitter.com/ZEeSqvpqMG— Armée française – Opérations militaires (@EtatMajorFR) May 5, 2022
“At the end of the mission, while it was approaching the Niamey runway, a technical incident jammed its landing gear,” the General Staff said. “To not damage the airport runway, it landed safely on a firing range 45 kilometers from Niamey in agreement with the local authorities.”
The extent of the damage to the drone has not been revealed. A technical investigation was opened to determine the origin of the incident.
It is the second incident to involve a French Reaper. On November 17, 2018, another UAV crashed near Niamey, Niger, on its way back from a mission in Mali.
Diori Hamani International Airport hosts the Niamey Air Base 101. As Operation Barkhane is about to end in Mali, the French armed forces progressively redeploy to Niger, from where they will continue counter-terrorism operations in the region.