US government clears way for spy gear sale to France
France is looking to purchase some $88 million in intelligence equipment from the United States, with the State Department authorizing the possible sale of eight high-tech drone surveillance systems.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally that is an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on Friday.
While Congress must give the green light before the deal can go ahead, the military argued that the sale of eight sensor pods for the MQ-9 Reaper drone would “improve France’s capability to meet current and future threats” and ensure “the operational readiness of the French Air and Space Force.”
The possible sale comes one week after the State Department approved another $300 million deal to France for “follow-on contractor logistics support” for the MQ-9 drone, as well as “aircraft components, spares and accessories” and simulator software, among other things
France received its first order for 16 MQ-9 Reapers back in August 2013, spending some $1.5 billion, and conducted its first operational flights with the unmanned craft just months later.