US Navy orders Reaper ISR services for the Marine Corps

The US Navy has recently awarded a contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services through the use of Group 5 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

US Navy orders Reaper ISR services for the Marine Corps An MQ-9 Reaper performs during an air show demonstration May 29, 2016 (Picture source: US Air Force)

According to a Defense Department contract announcement, on May 30, Naval Air Systems Command awarded GA-ASI a $US 36.5 million contract modification to provide ISR services with contractor-owned/contractor-operated MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, the same UAV used by the US Air Force.

The Marine Corps extensively has used contractor ISR services in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, with the smaller Insitu ScanEagle, and has employed its new service-owned Boeing Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack UAV in the same roles. The use of the larger Reaper is filling a gap in ISR coverage for the Marine Corps.

The Corps has developed a requirement for its own Reapers and has requested two in the fiscal 2020 defence budget. The current contract modification is for nine months of Reaper services, scheduled to run through February 2020 at overseas locations and at Yuma, Arizona.