Niger: Agadez Airport Imagery Update

CSBiggers (20MAY2016) Agadez Annotations

New satellite imagery available in Google Earth shows progress being made refurbishing the airfield at Aérienne 201, otherwise known as Mano Dayak International Airport. Space snapshots acquired in May by Astrium show milling efforts complete as well as the runway and turnarounds fully repaved since the project began in September. Previous imagery shows that surface repairs and runway remarking activity has occurred incrementally which has kept the airfield operational and minimized downtime. Various surveillance and transport aircraft were noted on the parking apron during the previous construction period.

A probable hangar or temporary shelter measuring 20 x 25 meters was noted on the south side of the runway. It’s thought to be associated with a contract to support the Cessna 208 Caravan at the airfield. However, it appears workers may have encountered some difficulty finishing the structure. For example, the shelter’s roof was in place by March, but imagery in May shows sections removed. In October, the US presented the country with two more Caravan adding to the two received in 2012.

Other infrastructure includes a new roadway running adjacent to the shelter. The road width and probable hangar placement may suggest it will double as an aircraft taxiway. Stretching south for approximately 1,850 meters, the road leads to a bermed bivouac site which was initially established in late 2013. This site is believed to be part a part of Aérienne 201. Imagery from April suggests additional US troops have deployed as indicated by additional internal security and the erection of 40 new shelters. They may have arrived as troop labor to support the construction of an additional runway as reported in the Air Force’s Military Construction Program Budget Estimates. Their arrival comes just a few months after US sent about thirty instructors to help train local forces at the desert city.

DG (28APR16) Niamey

In the meantime, the US drone apron over in Niamey has shown some recent expansion with a new tension clam-shell shelter deployed since March. We noted that there were additional plans for the area back in April 2015. Imagery continues to show ongoing leveling and paving activity currently underway.

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This entry was posted in English, Intelligence, Niger.

1 Response to Niger: Agadez Airport Imagery Update

  1. According to a formerly secret U.S. military documents obtained by The Intercept through the Freedom of Information Act the new drone base in Agadez, which will be completed next year, will replace to one in Niamey. According to Dan Gettinger, the co-founder and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, unlike in Niamay, at Agadez, the U.S. doesn’t need to share facilities with the French military or commercial aircraft and it is more strategically located than Niamey.

    The base is the latest sign, experts say, of an ever-increasing emphasis on counterterror operations in the north and west of the continent. As the only country in the region willing to allow a U.S. base for MQ-9 Reapers, Niger has positioned itself to be the key regional hub for U.S. military operations, with Agadez serving as the premier outpost for launching intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions against a plethora of terror groups.

    Additional files obtained by The Intercept attest to the importance of Agadez for future missions by drones, also known as remotely piloted aircraft or RPAs. “The top MILCON [military construction] project for USAFRICOM is located in Agadez, Niger to construct a C-17 and MQ-9 capable airfield,” reads a 2015 planning document. “RPA presence in NW Africa supports operations against seven [Department of State]-designated foreign terrorist organizations. Moving operations to Agadez aligns persistent ISR to current and emerging threats over Niger and Chad, supports French regionalization and extends range to cover Libya and Nigeria.”

    Source: Nick Turse, “U.S. Military Is Building a $100 Million Drone Base in Africa“, The Intercept, 29.09.2016.

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