14:18 GMT25 October 2020
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    The US Air Force is stationing MQ-9 Reaper drones at Greece’s Larisa Air Force Base, the first time the unmanned aerial vehicles will be making a home there, it was reported Thursday.

    According to Defense News, the drones, which are unarmed, will be based in Greece temporarily while their usual base in Africa is under reconstruction. The specific home of the Reapers hasn't been disclosed, though they are speculated to be based in Niger.

    "These aircraft are unarmed and are only used for reconnaissance. Due to operational security considerations, however, we do not release details on specific missions," Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon told Defense News. He noted that the drones are critical to addressing security threats "emanating from the south."

    The drones are being stationed at the Larisa Air Force base under an International Military Education Training program established between the US and Greece in an effort to fight Daesh militants, a White House press release from late 2016 indicated.

    Auburn Davies, chief of media operations for the USAF Air Forces Africa, informed Defense News that the reconnaissance drones will only be traveling through Greek airspace routes that have already been approved by the Greek government. While in use, US officials will be required to stay in contact with Greek Air Traffic Control officials throughout the entirety of flights.

    Authorities operating the take-off and landing of the drones will also be stationed at the Greek base while operators over yonder in the continental US handle normal flight operations via satellite, according to reports.

    In related Reaper news, General Atomics, the designer of the surveillance drone, was awarded a $206 million contract on May 17 by the US Defense Department to retrofit MQ-9 Reaper drones. The new upgrades are expected to improve range and communication capabilities of some 122 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper attack drones, Military Aerospace reported. This contract is in addition to a $14.2 million award the company won January 2017 for upgrade kits.


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    Larisa Air Force, MQ-9 Reaper drone, US Air Force, Greece
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