skip to main content

USMC receives first extended-range General Atomics MQ-9

An USMC MQ-9. (US Marine Corps)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has taken receipt of its first two extended-range General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) MQ-9s.

The two newbuild aircraft will be operated by Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU-3) from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

“These aircraft will be based out of Hawaii, fulfilling an immediate need for a long-range, long-endurance, land-based [large-size] UAS [unmanned aircraft system] to conduct persistent maritime domain awareness and data relay in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility,” the USMC told Janes . “The MQ-9A has proven to be a reliable platform with a proven track record in operations and procurement by the United States Air Force (USAF).”

The USMC expects to take delivery of four more MQ-9s in fiscal year (FY) 2024, the service told Janes .

The MQ-9s will not be armed, the USMC added, although the USAF, US intelligence agencies, and several other countries have armed their aircraft, notably with the AGM-114 Hellfire missile and its derivatives. Instead, the aircraft will be used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and networking. The USMC will not call these MQ-9s ‘Reapers', as the USAF did, to stress the difference in missions, but the USMC has yet to name the aircraft.

The USMC took delivery of at least two additional MQ-9s in 2021, which were until recently operated by contractors and based at MCAS Yuma, Arizona. These aircraft were transferred from the USAF, which is divesting its MQ-9 fleet.

The Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop-powered MQ-9 extended-range version can remain aloft for up to 34 hours with a range of over 4,000 n mile (7,408 km).

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...