General Atomics Awarded $206M Contract to Retrofit 122 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper Unmanned Aircraft

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has been awarded a firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive, and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, worth around $206 million, to retrofit 122 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper unmanned aircraft.

The retrofitting work will be performed at Poway, California, and is expected to be complete by June 20, 2024. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition.

The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. Fiscal 2017 and 2018 aircraft procurement funds in the amount of around $41 million are being obligated at the time of award.

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (sometimes called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF to indicate their human ground controllers. The UAV is capable of being remotely controlled or can conduct autonomous flight operations.

The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) surveillance. It is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier General Atomics MQ-1 Predator; and can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s.

The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine (compared to the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine). The greater power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of the MQ-1.

The aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS), including weapons employment.

The Reaper is also used by the United States Navy, the CIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), NASA, and the militaries of several other countries. The USAF plans to keep the MQ-9 in service into the 2030s.

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