General Atomics to continue support of MQ-9 Block V drone of French Air Force

According to a contract published by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) on December 18, 2020, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, has been awarded a $36,246,974 modification (P00009) to contract FA8620-20-C-2009 for France contractor logistics support MQ-9 Block Five and Block One aircraft. The contractor will provide an additional period of contractor logistics support for the French Air Force.

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General Atomics to continue support of MQ 9 Block V drone of French Air Force 925 001 French Air Force MQ-9 Reaper UAS Unmanned Aerial System. (Picture source French Air Force)

On 31 May 2013, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed the order of two MQ-9 Reapers. On 27 June 2013, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to France for 16 unarmed MQ-9s, associated equipment, ground control hardware, and support, worth up to $1.5 billion total. On 26 August 2013, France and the US Department of Defense concluded the deal for 16 Reapers and 8 ground control stations, with French operators beginning training.

In August 2018, American company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has been awarded a contract for $123 million for the French 3rd/4th Systems MQ-9 Block 5 program.

The MQ-9 Reaper also called Predator B is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations developed by the American Company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI).

On 24 May 2012, General Atomics conducted the successful first flight of its upgraded MQ-9 Block 1-plus Reaper redesignated MQ-9 Block 5. The new version was designed for increased electrical power, secure communications, automatic landing, increased gross takeoff weight (GTOW), weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration capabilities. A new high-capacity starter generator offers increased electrical power capacity to provide growth capacity; a backup generator is also present and is sufficient for all flight-critical functions, improving the electrical power system's reliability via three independent power sources.

The MQ-9 Block V has new communications capabilities, including dual ARC-210 VHF/UHF radios with wingtip antennas, allow for simultaneous communications between multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground parties, secure data links, and an increased data transmission capacity. The new trailing arm main landing gear allows the carriage of heavier payloads or additional fuel.