The United States is building a large air base just outside Agadez, Niger, which will become operational in 2019 and be used to carry out UAV missions in the region, including strike missions with MQ-9 Reapers. Approval for the 2,200- acre (890ha) Air Base 201 was given in 2014, and construction began in 2015. Hangars have been completed and construction of the mile-long (1.6km), 150ft-wide (45m) runway has started.
The United States currently flies armed UAVs from Air Base 101 in Niamey, but Agadez is more centrally located and in a less conspicuous area. However, its hot, dusty and dry environment, coupled with logistics challenges, has put the $110 million base a year behind schedule and $22 million over budget. Construction is being overseen by the 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, supported by Navy Seabees and Army military police. Construction of the base, which will at some stage be handed over to Niger, has been described by the US Air Force as the biggest military labour troop project in its history. Once completed, Air Base 201 will be an important counterterrorism hub. Guy Martin