General Atomics has been awarded a $9.6 million contract to design a laser for the MQ-9 Reaper UAV.

Interestingly, the contract wasn't awarded by the Air Force but rather by the Missile Defense Agency, according to the Department of Defense contract announcement.

General Atomics will "design, build, and test in the laboratory key laser subsystems required to demonstrate precision tracking," the Department of Defense said. "The contractor will develop and demonstrate a MQ-9 flight representative laser system with the beam train optics required to upgrade a multi-spectral targeting system for use as an active tracking sensor. Under this contractual effort the contractor is to deliver a laser system sized to meet MQ-9 integration requirements."

The contract is part of the Missile Defense Agency's Advanced Technology Innovation program. The contract is scheduled for completion by September 2017.