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USMC buys two previously leased Reapers

21st October 2021 - 13:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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USMC MQ-9A, pictured in March 2021 at an undisclosed location in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. (Photo: USMC)

Marine Corps used a ‘try before you buy’ approach with a pair of MQ-9A Reapers.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) completed the transfer of two MQ-9A Reaper Block 5 UAS plus associated support equipment and ground control stations to the USMC on 15 October 2021, the company announced on 20 October.

Both aircraft were operated by the USMC since 2018 under a contractor-owned/contractor-operated (COCO) lease agreement to meet a UOR. They have accrued more than 12,000 flight hours in operations over the Middle East.

From April 2020, the two COCO MQ-9As were flown in remote split operations from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma under a lease agreement between GA-ASI and Naval Air Systems Command.

The Reapers represent the first increment of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) UAS Expeditionary Program of Record (MUX POR).

The MUX POR will include an additional 16 new MQ-9As, which the USMC will begin procuring in 2022 to support an early operational capability in 2023 and IOC for US Indo-Pacific Command by 2025.

GA ASI president David Alexander said the leasing arrangement was ‘a great example of how a customer can “try before you buy” our aircraft’.

As a result, he added, the USMC has ‘seen firsthand how a persistent ISR platform, like the MQ-9A, can support the Marine Corps’ need for long-range sensing in the Pacific as a part of the Commandant’s Force Design Initiative’.

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