US Marine Corps to acquire two MQ-9A Reaper UAVs

The US Marine Corps (USMC) will acquire two MQ-9A Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs and related systems. The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) disclosed that it had awarded GA-ASI a $13.06 million contract modification related to the procurement of the two Reaper air vehicles and other UAS equipment.

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US Marine Corps to acquire two MQ 9A Reaper UAVs 01 An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles (Picture source: US Air Force)

The Reaper is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets. Given its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons, it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.

Reapers can also perform the following missions and tasks: intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, buddy-lase, convoy and raid overwatch, route clearance, target development, and terminal air guidance. The MQ-9's capabilities make it uniquely qualified to conduct irregular warfare operations in support of combatant commander objectives.

The U.S. Air Force proposed the MQ-9 Reaper system in response to the Department of Defense directive to support initiatives of overseas contingency operations. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator, and is designed to execute time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets. The "M" is the DoD designation for multi-role, and "Q" means remotely piloted aircraft system. The "9" indicates it is the ninth in the series of remotely piloted aircraft systems.

US Marine Corps to acquire two MQ 9A Reaper UAVs 02 A maintenance Airman inspects an MQ-9 Reaper. Capable of striking enemy targets with on-board weapons, the Reaper has conducted close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (Picture source: US Air Force)