A French unmanned aircraft waits to be flown July 11 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The French unmanned aircraft is similar to the U.S. MQ-1 Predator MQ-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Felicia Juenke)
French air force Adjutant Chief Richard Muze ensures all parts of the unmanned aircraft engine are working properly July 11 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Adjutant Chief Muze is from the French air force unmanned aircraft operational squadron deployed to Bagram Airfield in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Felicia Juenke)
French air force 1st Lt. Nicolas Divry performs a preflight check to ensure the aircraft will function properly once it gets in the air July 11 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The squadron has the skills necessary to perform operational day and night intelligence gathering missions that benefit coalition troops. Lieutentant Divry is a pilot from the French air force unmanned aircraft operational squadron deployed to Bagram Airfield . (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Felicia Juenke)
by Tech. Sgt. John Jung
455th Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
7/13/2009 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Airmen of the French unmanned aircraft system operational squadron here are active on patrols in the sky over Afghanistan looking for any movement that could mean danger to friendly troops as they provide coalition and International Security Assistance Force troops with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
"We provide important information to soldiers about what is on the ground ahead of them and around them from a god's eye view," said French air force Lt. Col. Cyril Carcy, the French UAS operational squadron commander.
The UAS squadron stationed at Bagram Airfield demonstrates the French military's commitment to coalition forces and the importance of the mission here.
Several dozen French air force members fly, maintain and monitor the handful of unmanned aircraft deployed here. The French UAS is similar to the U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator, as the French model is an all-weather platform that can loiter over an area all day and night. The unmanned aircraft features an anti-icing system on the wings and has a fully automated takeoff and landing routine aided by a Global Positioning Satellite system. The unmanned aircraft is referred to by its pilots as a "Harfang," or snowy arctic owl, reinforcing the idea of stealth.
The French UAS squadron brings with it a sense of comfort and calm to its coalition partners.
"The more eyes we have in the air, the better for all of us," said Staff Sgt. William Schroeder of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. Sergeant Schroeder, deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and native of Spencer, Iowa, provided security on the flightline near the UAS hangar. "The French contributions to the mission at Bagram are making a huge difference to our safety."