The US Marine Corps (USMC) has officially taken ownership of two previously-leased MQ-9A Reapers, which are expected to bolster the marine air-ground task force expeditionary program.
Developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), the USMC has operated the unmanned aerial vehicles since 2018 under a Company Owned/Company Operated lease agreement. They have also completed over 12,000 flight hours supporting missions in the Middle East.
According to GA-ASI president David R. Alexander, acquisition of the Reapers will allow the marines to better understand and address the vital needs of the expeditionary program while also supporting warfighters.
“It was a great example of how a customer can ‘try before you buy’ our aircraft. Now they’ve seen firsthand how a persistent ISR platform, like the MQ-9A, can support the Marine Corps’ need for long-range sensing,” he explained, as quoted by Naval Technology.
In addition to the MQ-9A drones, the service received two ground control stations and related support equipment.
About the MQ-9A Reapers
Engineered to exceed aircraft reliability standards, the MQ-9A Reapers are equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple-redundant avionics that allow the drones to perform a variety of functions.
The vehicle also has full-motion video and synthetic aperture radar, allowing it to provide surveillance capability for 26 straight hours at a height of up to 45,000 feet (13 kilometers).
Moreover, the Reaper features a payload capacity of 1,746 kilograms (3,850 pounds).
The marines will start procuring additional 16 MQ-9A Reapers next year to support Initial Operational Capability.