07 October 2020
According to a report originally published in The Telegraph, the French authorities have turned down a UK offer of drones assistance to try to prevent departures of boats trying to cross the Channel. However, it is unclear from the report whether the UK authorities sought to lend the drone itself to the French, or instead wanted access to French airspace to monitor beaches.
"France is rebuffing Britain’s offer of a hi-tech surveillance drone to help stop Channel migrants leaving its beaches despite the craft’s success in smashing a people smuggling gang.
Dan O'Mahoney, the Home Office’s new migrants commander, met with French ambassador Catherine Colonna yesterday to urge her Government to step up its surveillance effort by using the UK’s Tekever AR5 drone which can stay in the air for 20 hours.
The Home Office believes preventing the migrants leaving the coast is critical and follows British criticism of France’s refusal to turn back migrants at sea and instead shepherd them into British waters.
The Tekever AR5 fixed wing drone can cruise at 60 mph at heights of hundreds of metres with cameras and radar, and is understood to have played a key role in helping track and arrest a Channel migrant trafficking gang.
It has been deployed by the coastguard alongside the Ministry of Defence’s Watchkeeper drone, which can reach 16,000 feet with a range of 100 miles and was used by the Army in Afghanistan.
During yesterday’s meeting Mr O’Mahoney and Ms Colonna discussed French and UK co-operation including a further operational plan which is nearing agreement."
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