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Spain announces the purchase of four General Atomics' MQ-9 Reaper UAVs

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World Aviation Defense & Security News - Spain
 
 
 
Spain announces the purchase of four General Atomics' MQ-9 Reaper UAVs
 
Spain has decided to buy four MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drones, the defence ministry said Thursday August 6, making it the fifth European nation to equip itself with the US-made devices. The Spanish defence ministry's budget for 2016, which was presented in parliament on Tuesday, sets aside 25 million euros ($27 million) to buy four reconnaissance drones and two ground stations.
     
Spain has decided to buy four MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drones, the defence ministry said Thursday August 6, making it the fifth European nation to equip itself with the US-made devices. The Spanish defence ministry's budget for 2016, which was presented in parliament on Tuesday, sets aside 25 million euros ($27 million) to buy four reconnaissance drones and two ground stations. RAF MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle
     
The entire five-year drone programme has a budget of 171 million euros.

The defence ministry has selected the bid from privately owned US firm General Atomics, which has a teaming agreement with Spanish engineering firm Sener, to supply it with four Reaper drones, a ministry spokesman said.

"This type of equipment is necessary in operations today," he added.

The Reaper, which had a wingspan of 20 metres (66 feet), is already used by Britain, France and Italy and has been ordered by the Netherlands. The United States fly armed Reapers in combat zones but Spain only wants an unarmed version of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The European defence industry does not produce reconnaissance drones like the Reaper, which is capable of flying 24 hours non-stop and can reach a maximum altitude of 13,700 metres (45,000 feet).

Germany, France and Italy decided in May to spend 60 million euros on a technical study for a European drone project proposed by Airbus, France's Dassault and Italy's Alenia Aermacchi of the Finmeccanica group.

"The Spanish defence ministry is interested in the development of a European project," the spokesman added.

The typical MQ-9 system is composed of multiple aircraft, ground-control stations, satellites, and flight and maintenance crews. The aircraft is powered by a 950 hp turboprop, with a maximum speed of about 260 knots (300 miles per hour or 483 km per hour) and a cruising speed of 150-170 knots (278 to 315 km/hour). With a 66 ft (20 m) wingspan, and a maximum payload of 3,800 lb (1,700 kg), the MQ-9 can be armed with a variety of weaponry, including Hellfire missiles and 500-lb laser-guided bomb units.

The Reaper has an estimated range of about 1,000 nmi (1,150 mi; 1,850 km) and an operational altitude of 50,000 ft (15,000 m), which makes it especially useful for long-term loitering operations, both for surveillance and support of ground troops.

(Source: AFP)