The French Air Force is testing the UAV via satellite communications
The French Air Force's UAV Harfang is operated by a crew of the French military flight test center (Center d'Expérience aérienne Militaire) of the Belfort UAV squadron (ED 1 / 33) and a UAV squadron stationed in the Sahel-Sahara region. He successfully passed the test, proving that after taking off from a base of foreign deployment, it can be controlled from a control point located in France.
Hour test flight in conditions close to combat, proved that the drone piloting functions can be transferred from the control center in Niger, from where the UAV took off into the control center in Cognac, located at a distance of almost 5000 km, and can be controlled from there UAV payload.
These new capabilities allow, without leaving the country, in the event of hostilities, significantly increase the amount of intelligence information.
The current Harfang fleet consists of four unmanned aerial vehicles and three ground monitoring and control stations. Harfang (in French, "Arctic White Owl") is a mid-altitude UAV designed for the French Air Force with a long flight duration. The French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) recently signed a contract with Airbus Defense and Space and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to modernize fleet French Harfangs, as well as their maintenance until the end of 2017.
It is equipped with a radar and optical-electronic sensors, providing round-the-clock mission in all weather conditions. Due to the long duration of the flight, the UAV is capable of transmitting real-time data to national and international joint command posts. The program is managed by Airbus Defense and Space in close collaboration with IAI, which developed and built the drone platform, as well as a number of its subsystems.
The Harfang UAV has been successfully operated since November 2008 by the Belfort squadron (ED 1 / 33) of the French Air Force stationed at 709 airfield in Cognac in south-western France. Within three years (2009-2012), Harfang was deployed in Afghanistan to support the International Security Assistance Force.
The first combat deployment of the drone was at the American air base in Bagram, where Kharhang made about 600 sorties, gaining flight hours around 5000. In 2011, the Harfangs were also deployed at the Sogonella air base in Italy as part of the Harmattan operation in Libya.
More recently, the Harfang UAV has been used in several French operations in the Sahel region of Africa, for example, since January 2013, in Operation Serval in Mali. During his 15-month deployment at the Niamey base in Niger, Harfang performed more 3500 flight hours in 250 operations. In February 2014, Harfang reached a symbolic mark in 10 000 flight hours, completing more than 900 missions in the French Air Force.
In addition, Harfang passed the DGA army certification in 2010. Thanks to this certification, the universal unmanned system has since been regularly used in France operations, for example, by the French Air Force to train operators in Cognac and internal security during major national events - such as military parades and international events on Bastille Day, at the G8 Summit and recently at the D-Day jubilee ceremony in Normandy.
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