PARIS — Britain is exploring with France a joint training effort for pilots and procurement of the Reaper, reflecting an intense use of the surveillance drone in Africa and the Middle East, said British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.
The UK and France both operate the General Atomics Reaper, with the British Royal Air Force flying armed versions of the drone against Islamic State insurgents in Iraq. France recently received a third Reaper.
“I specifically want to talk to Minister Le Drian today about Reaper UAV capacity,” Fallon told journalists here. “There is bottleneck on training drone pilots and we’re all short of drones.
“We have 10, they’re out on service at the moment, each one of them. We don’t have spare capacity to allocate anywhere else. Maybe there is much we could do there in common, either in the training or the procurement.”
The RAF had flown some 250 airstrikes against IS fighters in Iraq by May 27, a British official said. That was the second-highest number of airstrikes in Iraq after the US.
Tornado fighters take off morning and evening almost every day, intended to support the Iraqi army. The armed British Reapers fly as part of that intervention.