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Proliferated Drones : A Perspective on France

in Kelley Sayler (ed.), Proliferated Drones, Washington D.C., Center for a New American Security (CNAS), 27 May 2016


France has a long history of using drones. One of the very first drones – the remote-controlled World War I-era Voisin 8 biplane tested in 1917 – was French. Today, drones of all sizes are used in both domestic and foreign operations. While unarmed drones are used exclusively for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) as a complement to manned platforms, there is a debate emerging over the possible weaponization of the American-built, French-operated MQ-9 Reapers used in Operation Barkhane. By 2025 France will likely possess an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), which is necessarily armed, to deploy in denied airspaces in combination with Rafale jet fighters. However, in acquiring and deploying drones, France is facing several financial, human resource, public perception, and cultural constraints.

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