Turkey delivered six Bayraktar TB2 drones to Niger earlier this month as part of an arms deal Ankara signed with Niamey in November, Radio France Internationale reported.
The deal includes armored vehicles and Hurkus light attack aircraft, the first Turkish manned aircraft to be exported.
The West African nation bought the drones to improve its surveillance capabilities in its fight against Islamic State and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups operating around the tri-border with Mali and Burkina Faso.
To Build Related Infrastructure
Niger is planning to build an airbase to accommodate the drones, which can also be armed.
“These drones complement Niger’s surveillance capabilities, but we now need to put in place the entire system that will allow their use: training of pilots and image analysis agents, maintenance of devices, spare parts, supply chain, etc.,” the outlet quoted a French security source in the region as saying.
The medium altitude drone has a range of 150 kilometers (93 miles) and can remain aloft for 27 hours. It can be armed with precision-guided missiles, laser-guided bombs and anti-tank missiles.
The deal also reflects the country’s desire to diversify its arms purchases away from France, its former colonial ruler.