GA-ASI wins UK MQ-9 drone contract

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, has been awarded a $12,954,626 firm-fixed-price contract for the United Kingdom MQ-9 Second Operating Location Alternate Reaper (SOLAR).

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GA ASI wins UK MQ 9 drone contract Royal Air Force's MQ-9 Reaper, equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles (Picture source: UK MoD)

Production of one MQ-9 Reaper Block 1, Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar, Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation System, and United Kingdom specific modifications will be performed stateside and is expected to be completed July 1, 2021. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition and involves 100 percent Foreign Military Sales to the government of the United Kingdom.

The MQ-9 Reaper (Reaper MQ-9A) is a remotely piloted medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) aircraft designed for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), and attack missions. The aircraft’s persistence and array of surveillance sensors are an essential complement to the RAF’s crewed platforms.

A crew comprising a pilot, sensor operator and mission intelligence co-ordinator flies Reaper from a remote ground control station (GCS). An in-theatre launch and recovery team is responsible for its ground operations. The operational crew controls the aircraft, its sensors and weapons system via an advanced, secure satellite communication system, providing over-the-horizon data link capability from bases in the UK and US.

Two cameras in the aircraft’s forward fuselage provide a forward view for the crew on landing and take-off, while a full sensor suite, with targeting, daylight TV and infrared capabilities is turret mounted beneath Reaper’s forward fuselage. An internal synthetic aperture radar completes the MQ-9’s sensor suite.