The Navy has purchased its first two MQ-9A Reaper drones, awarding General Atomics Aeronautical Systems nearly $27 million on June 22 for the unmanned air systems and associated ground control equipment.

The MQ-9A Reaper is a multimission, medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft that is remotely piloted. According to the June 22 contract announcement, the Reapers will be used for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions as well as persistent strike efforts.

The contract procures two MQ-9A Reapers, one dual-control mobile ground control station, one modular data center and one mobile ground control station.

This is the first time the Navy has purchased Reapers, but it’s already been using the unmanned aircraft overseas.

According to fiscal 2020 fiscal 2021 budget documents, the two MQ-9A aircraft the Navy is purchasing have been used by the Marine Corps in a contractor-operated, contractor-owned arrangement since September 2018 to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to Task Force Southwest in Afghanistan. Because they are used, the Reapers will cost less than brand-new systems. The FY21 budget request estimates the cost of each system as being just under $12 million.

Work is expected to be completed by December 2020.

Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.

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