The US Marine Corps has taken delivery of its first MQ-9 Reaper drone under a joint procurement deal with the US Air Force.
The delivery was part of a $136 million contract awarded to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in 2022 for eight MQ-9s to be delivered to the marines this year.
It was also made possible through the help of the US Navy.
According to a Naval Air Systems Command press release, the navy’s unmanned air system program team leveraged the air force’s Agile Reaper Enterprise Solution to purchase Reaper drones, associated spares, and support equipment.
It has enabled the US Marine Corps to establish a medium-altitude, long-endurance segment of the Marine Air Ground Task Force.
“The US Air Force has been a great partner and a major enabler in the Marine Corps’ pursuit to acquire group 5 UAS (unmanned aerial system),” MQ-9 program director Lt. Col Leigh Irwin said.
Group 5 UAS will allow the marines to carry out improved intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions to support stand-in forces.
‘Filling an Immediate Need’
General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper drone was designed to provide intelligence collection for the military.
However, due to its significant loitering capability and precision weapons, the system is also used to strike high-value, mobile, and time-sensitive targets.
Its wide-range sensors and multi-mode communications suite also enable effective coordination with other military platforms.
Irwin said the MQ-9 Reaper recently delivered to the US Marine Corps will support overseas operations.
It will also fill an immediate need for a long-range, long-endurance drone in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.