France’s Harfang Drone

The Harfang drone is a French version of Israeli Aerospace Industry’s Heron drone, with the plane and its computer being built by EADS and IAI. The engine is built by the Austrian company BRP Rotax. It is a MALE drone (medium altitude, long endurance).

Only four drones seem to  have been made, and there have been lots of production problems, especially building a navigation system compatible with the satellites available.

The Harfang has limited speed and manueverability, but was deployed in 2008 with French forces in Afghanistan, specifically at Bagram Air Base. One crashed there in March 2009 due to weather and software error.

There have been lots of problem with the Harfang, even after initial manufacturing problems were solved. In 2009, not long after the deployment to Afghanistan, 2 of the 3 Harfangs were grounded, causing the French to consider an emergency purchase of American Reaper drones. In October 2009 the French Defence Minister Herve Morin complained about slow Israeli response with respect to spare parts.

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