Sep 9, 2014
Air Force may move drones, personnel inside Niger
Last year, the Air Force deployed about 100 airmen and remotely piloted aircraft to Niamey in the southwestern region of Niger to “provide support for intelligence collection and ... facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali”. The deployment included Air Force security forces to protect the aircraft.
U.S. Africa Command is looking to move the aircraft about 450 miles north to Agadez. That city of in the northern part of the country has a small airstrip on its southern edge.
The move is at the request of, and in coordination with the government of Niger and the Nigerian Armed Forces, AFRICOM.
This location would be closer for crews to keep an eye on militants spreading in Libya to the north. Nigeria agreed to the U.S. presence to help secure the country’s borders against jihadist infiltrations from Libya.
Aircraft would still operate at the Niamey base.
The Air Force, on Aug. 21, posted a solicitation for 18 shelter systems to house U.S. aircraft and personnel in in Agadez. Earlier solicitations sought jet fuel and runway repair in the area. The move would not fully take place until the infrastructure at the base is ready.
U.S. drones have also been deployed to N’Djamena, Chad, and bases in the Horn of Africa and the Seychelles. Additional surveillance flights over Libya are flown from bases in Italy.