October 11, 2009 / 10:43 AM / 10 years ago

France may buy U.S. military drones -report

PARIS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - France is considering buying military drones from U.S. company General Atomics to meet an urgent need for unmanned military surveillance aircraft, Le Point magazine reported on its website on Sunday.

The option being discussed would see France buy four Predator B drones and two stations for receiving and processing images for a cost of up to $100 million, the magazine reported. Each additional drone would cost $10 million.

The talks come as two of the French air force’s fleet of three Harfang drones — supplied by European defence group EADS EAD.PA and deployed in Afghanistan — remain grounded awaiting repairs, Le Point said.

France turned to the U.S. for a temporary solution as this would be quicker than waiting for a European alternative, the magazine reported.

The French defence ministry on Sunday said it would not have a comment on the article before Monday.

Privately held General Atomics makes the Predator and Sky Warrior unmanned aircraft and dominates the drone market along with Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), maker of the high-altitude Global Hawk.

The Predator sends surveillance video to troops in real time and can also be armed with Hellfire missiles. (Reporting by James Regan; editing by Simon Jessop)

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