The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (VMU-1) announced in a press release that it has procured an MQ-9A “Reaper” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a first for the Marine Corps.
The new Reaper also marked the transitioning of the Marine Corps from its previous RQ-21 Group 3 UAV, which has been in service with the Marine Corps and Navy since 2014.
The acquisition of the Mq-9 is expected to revolutionize VMU-1 operations by “allowing the system operator to operate from ship and shore, and employ both collection and lethal payloads while integrating with command and control centers, allowing the synchronization of remotely piloted aircraft with ground and air assets.”
The MQ09A “Reaper,” also referred to as the Predator B, was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems with the US Air Force as its primary operator.
The MQ-9 was built for longer flight endurance and higher-altitude operation. It can fly for 40 hours without refueling and has an operational altitude of up to 40,000 ft (12 km).
In July, the USAF revealed for the first time that it had held a demonstration to showcase the new capabilities and features of the Reaper, particularly its automatic take-off and landing.