It would appear drone operations may soon make their way to Agadez just as unmanned operations at Ethiopia’s Arba Minch have ended. In preparation, the runway at Aérienne 201, otherwise known as Mano Dayak International Airport, is currently being repaved. As of December 2015, approximately 750 meters of the 3,000 meter runway had been completed, Offiziere sources can confirm.
A new parking apron (pictured above) and aircraft hangar also appear to be under construction on the southwest side of the runway. The observed activity supports reporting from September 2014 stating that Niger had agreed to U.S. deployments at the airfield.
According to U.S. Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 project data, the runway will be built to specifications to accommodate the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter. It also mentions that runways, taxiways, and aprons be built in accordance with ETL 9-01, Airfield Planning and Design Criteria for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, for MQ-1/MQ-9 aircraft (see page 194ff). Three 140′ x 140′ re-locatable fabric tension aircraft hangers will also be erected. These are what many observers have come to call ‘clamshell’ shelters.
No surprise the activity is observed as American instructors began training about 100 Nigerien troops at the desert city in November. The deployment of U.S. trainers follows closely on the heels of a U.S. donation of two additional Cessna 208 which will operate in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role. Imagery suggests the new aircraft may be based at Aérienne 101 in Niamey.