Air Platforms

GA-ASI contracted to deliver special mission upgrades for Reaper and Gray Eagle UAVs

30 August 2019

37 MQ-9 Reaper UAVs fielded by Air Force Special Operations Command are receiving further hardware and software enhancements designed to improve their special forces capabilities. Source: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has contracted General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) to deliver upgrades to the special mission MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The USD78 million award (potentially rising to USD93 million) announced on 29 August covers enhancements to the Medium Altitude Long Endurance-Tactical (MALET) configuration of the MQ-9s employed by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), as well as those for the MQ-1C Special Operations Forces Peculiar (SOF-p) employed by the US Army Special Operations Commands (USASOC).

The contract will run through to September 2023.

The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has a previously stated requirement that requires the capability to find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyse time-sensitive high-value targets. These targets can often only be identified with patient collection of information and require rapid, decisive action during the short periods in which they present themselves. It is to these ends that the AFSOC and USASOC are equipping the MQ-9 and MQ-1C with special operations forces-unique mission kits, mission payloads, weapons, and other unspecified modifications.

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