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Unmanned Vehicles

Unexpected UK MQ-9 Reaper buy looks to prevent unmanned capability gap

9th April 2021 - 16:50 GMT | by Tim Martin in London

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The UK MoD has committed to buying 16 MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAS to replace a MQ-9 Reaper fleet (Photo: GA-ASI)

A US DoD contract has revealed that the UK has agreed to buy an additional MQ-9 Reaper. The thinking behind this may be associated with a need to maintain unmanned operational output ahead of the introduction of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian.

A decision by the US DoD to award General Atomics a $13 million contract for the production of one UK MQ-9 Reaper Block 1 and associated kit is thought to be linked to predictions made by the MoD that current unmanned platforms will soon reach their recommended number of flight hours, Shephard understands.

Faced with such a scenario, the thinking behind the purchase of an 11th UK Reaper probably reflects a need to ensure that UAV operational output continues without complication — crucially staving off a potential capability gap until the first MQ-9B SkyGuardian (designated Protector by the UK) is delivered ...

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