The United States Marine Corps took possession of two previously leased MQ-9A Reaper Block 5 unmanned aerial vehicles.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems completed the transfer of the two Reapers on October 15, 2021.
The aircraft has been operated by the Marine Corps since 2018 on a company-owned / company-operated lease in support of an urgent operational need. The Reapers represent the first increment in Task Force Marine Air-Ground’s Expeditionary Unmanned Aircraft System Registration Program. The aircraft transfer includes two ground control stations and associated support equipment.
Both COCO MQ-9As, using remote division operations from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Have been in service to the Corps under a lease agreement between GA-ASI and Naval Air Systems Command, accumulating more than 12,000 flight hours in support of operations in the Middle East and informing the requirements and expectations for the MUX POR. The POR MUX will include 16 additional new MQ-9As, which the Marine Corps will begin procuring in 2022 to support early operational capability in 2023 and initial operational capability in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command by 2025.
âThe Marine Corps leveraged the leased aircraft to better understand and articulate the needs of the MUX program, while simultaneously supporting the forward-deployed fighter,â said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander . âIt was a great example of how a customer can ‘try before they buy’ our aircraft. Now, they’ve seen firsthand how a persistent ISR platform, like the MQ-9A, can meet the Marine Corps’ long-range detection needs in the Pacific as part of the design initiative of the strength of the commander.
With unmatched operational flexibility, the MQ-9A Block 5 has a runtime of over 26 hours, speeds of 220 KTAS and can operate up to 45,000 feet. It has a payload capacity of 3,850 pounds which includes 3,000 pounds of external magazines. It provides long-lasting, persistent surveillance capability with full motion video and synthetic aperture radar. An extremely reliable aircraft, the MQ-9A Block 5 is equipped with a fault tolerant flight control system and a triple redundant avionics system architecture. It is designed to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.