Russia may deploy two reconnaissance aircraft to a French base in the Horn of Africa state of Djibouti where the US is reportedly leading its secret drone war in the region.
Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday the deployment, aimed at conducting anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, will only be carried out with the consent of Paris.
“We have asked France to host two reconnaissance planes at its air base in Djibouti in addition to three French planes deployed there,” Serdyukov said after meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris.
Several countries, including the US and France, conduct anti-piracy operations in Djibouti, a close front against piracy in the region based in neighboring Somalia.
The Russian Ilyushin Il-38, intended to be dispatched to Djibouti, can fly at a maximum speed of 650 km/h with service ceiling of 10,000 meters.
A recent report by Washington Post reveals that the US military has clandestinely transformed a remote former French military outpost in Djibouti named Camp Lemonnier, into “the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone.”
According to the report, nearly 3,200 US soldiers, civilians and contractors are currently assigned to the military camp, “where they train foreign militaries, gather intelligence and dole out humanitarian aid across East Africa as part of a campaign to prevent extremists from taking root.”
Lemonnier, according to the report, has also emerged as a hub for conventional aircraft. “In October 2011, the military boosted the airpower at the base by deploying a squadron of F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets, which can fly faster and carry more munitions than Predators.”
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