With France's new defense strategy due out next month, and a new multiyear spending plan expected by March, French lawmakers are favoring a purchase of U.S. MQ-9 Reapers in support of the military's short-term requirement for Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drones. Such a move, they say, could save money while offering an opportunity to develop a European variant of the General Atomics-built unmanned aerial system (UAS).
“Discussions are underway with General Atomics to build these American drones with European sensors and armaments,” members of France's European affairs committee said in an interim report on European defense posture released in December. “Reapers are American and less expensive than European programs."
Given that the system is in service with U.K. and Italy, with Germany and Poland also considering Reaper buys, "the favored scenario is to start with a Europeanization of equipment, then gradually the drone itself.”