An MQ-9 Reaper, a combat UAV made by the United States, has reportedly crashed in West Africa sometime on February 18. This has however not been officially confirmed by any government. The crash was reported by a Telegram account which showed photos of the wreckage of the drone.
The drone was shot down in a territory controlled by the Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam Wal-Muslimeen, an organisation that is affiliated with al-Qaeda, a declared terrorist group. According to the author of the Telegram post, the location of the drone crash is around 200 kilometres from Timbuktu. Incidentally, the author did not specify the exact location of the crash.
According to the author, al-Qaeda-linked fighters have taken possession of the drone. Residents, on the other hand, were able to take photographs before disposing of the remains. The images depict components and parts manufactured by two American companies, General Atomics and L3 Communications. The remaining landing gear also closely resembles that of the MQ-9.
No country currently operating the drone has announced its absence. By the way, the MQ-9 is operated by France, which maintains a military presence in the region and they are particularly active in the Sahel region.
MQ-9 is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) designed and manufactured by General Atamocis in the United States. The drone is almost 22 years old, having taken its first flight in 2001.
The wingspan of the Reaper is 65 feet 7 inches (20 metres). It has a maximum take-off weight of 10,494 lb (4,760 kg) and can carry a payload of 3,800 lb (1,700 kg). It is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine. It is also equipped with a Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC) which provides it at least 900 hp (671 kW).
The Reaper has seven weapon attachment points. It can carry armaments weighing up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) on its two inboard weapons stations, 750 lb (340 kg) on the two middle stations, and 150 lb (68 kg) on the two outboard stations. It can also carry up to four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.
The avionics on the MQ-9 are impressive. It is made up of an AN/DAS-1 MTS-B Multi-Spectral Targeting System, an AN/APY-8 Lynx II radar, and a Raytheon SeaVue Marine Search Radar.