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German army increases Heron drones use in Mali


As part of the United Nations mission MINUSMA (Mission Multidimensionnelle Intégrée des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation au Mali, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), the German Armed Forces in northern Mali are using Heron drones to provide information. Now, two reconnaissance missions can be carried out simultaneously and sustainably: on May 5, the budget committee of the Bundestag released the funds for an extension and expansion of the operator contract for the Heron drones.

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German army increases Heron drone use in Mali

As part of the UN MINUSMA mission, the Heron 1 in Gao in northern Mali has been in use since 2016 by the German contingent (Picture source: Bundeswehr)


With four Heron 1 UAVs instead of the previous three, and three instead of two ground control stations, the German contingent for MINUSMA will be able to deploy two of the unmanned reconnaissance systems simultaneously and consistently on behalf of the United Nations.

The fourth aircraft will provide the German contingent with a necessary reserve. In this way, planned downtimes of the Heron 1 can be compensated for by repair measures, but also unplanned downtimes and do not have a negative effect on the provision of capabilities.

Since September 2020, the Bundeswehr has been using two Heron 1 UAVs at the same time in Mali if necessary. The decision to increase the number is in line with the request of the United Nations from March 2020 to expand aerial reconnaissance and make it more flexible. With this measure, the United Nations are responding to the increased requirements that can be derived from the deteriorating security situation in Mali.

The new operator contract with Airbus Defense & Space Airborne Solutions GmbH, a limited liability company, runs until the end of April 2024. Airbus is responsible for the provision, maintenance and repair of the Heron 1 and the ground control stations. The operations of the reconnaissance systems are carried out by soldiers of the Bundeswehr.