Marine Corps acquires two MQ-9 Reapers

By Audrey Decker / October 20, 2021 at 2:15 PM

The Marine Corps acquired two MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aircraft systems from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems on Friday, according to the company’s press release.

The Reapers have been in operation for the Marine Corps as part of a leasing agreement since 2018 and have accrued over 12,000 flight hours supporting operations in the Middle East, according to General Atomics.

“The Reapers represent the first increment of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System Expeditionary Program of Record. The transfer of aircraft includes two Ground Control Stations and associated support equipment,” the press release states.

Last month, a service official said the Marine Corps is shifting the purpose of the Reaper from counterinsurgency to focus on great power competition.

“An extremely reliable aircraft, MQ-9A Block 5 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple-redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards,” the press release states.

The Marine Corps will begin procuring an additional 16 Reapers in 2022, according to the press release.

Early operational capability is expected in 2023 and initial operating capability in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command will be achieved by 2025, the press release states.