The following video shows a French Foreign Legion (2e régiment étranger de parachutistes – 2eREP) paradrop into Timbuktu, Mali, from a C-160 Transal airlifter of the French Air Force.
It was taken on Jan. 28, from the Infra-Red camera of a Harfang drone, supporting Operation Serval from Niger.
The Harfang drones are the only French UAVs reportedly operating in West Africa. These ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platforms are about to be supported by a RAF Sentinel R1 deployed in Senegal.
The Sentinel will be extremely important in Mali, maybe more than it was in Libya. The aircraft is the air segment of the Airborne STand-Off Radar (ASTOR) system, uses a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) to detect and track enemy ground forces. With a Dual Mode Radar similar to the U-2s ASARS, the Sentinel will be able to provide French forces with data relating to the rebels movements as it did in Libya pinpointing Gaddafi’s forces.
Written with David Cenciotti