USMC flies first Reaper UAV

by Gareth Jennings

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has flown its first General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), taking over the capability from its previous contractor-owned contractor operated (COCO) model.

US Marine Corps personnel control a government-owned and government-operated Reaper unmanned aircraft for the first time in late August. (US Marine Corps)

US Marine Corps personnel control a government-owned and government-operated Reaper unmanned aircraft for the first time in late August. (US Marine Corps)

The service announced on 7 September that Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 1 ‘Watchdog', 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, received the first Reaper on 30 August.

“Since 2018 flight operations of the MQ-9A have fallen under a COCO construct. However, the MQ-9A has since transitioned to a GOGO [government-owned government-operated] unmanned aircraft system, signifying the [US] Marine Corps' ownership of these assets and progressing toward an organically trained and qualified aircrew”, the USMC said, adding that the transition from COCO to the first USMC flight had taken three years of training, safety and operational planning, contractor maintenance, process development, and staff analysis of risk management to ensure complete procedural adherence to US Navy and US Marine Corps aviation policies. Pilots and sensor operators from VMU-1 had been flying Reaper missions with oversight from GA-ASI contractors over Afghanistan since April 2020.

News of the milestone comes some five months after Janes first reported that the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) had awarded GA-ASI a USD13.06 million contract modification related to the procurement of two Reaper air vehicles and other unmanned aircraft system (UAS) equipment. “The USMC has an urgent requirement […] for an organic, 24/7 capable, Group 5 UAS for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and persistent strike efforts for the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in support of outside continental US (OCONUS) USMC combat ground elements,” the 12 April notification said.

Already a Janes subscriber? Read the full article via the Client Login
Interested in subscribing, see What we do

Share

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/usmc-flies-first-reaper-uav

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has flown its first General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-...

Request Consultation

Request a free consultation to discover how Janes can provide you with assured, interconnected open-source intelligence.

Details