US Marine Corps to Get MQ-9A Extended Range Unmanned Aircraft Systems

MQ-9A Image
An MQ-9A Extended Range (ER) Unmanned Aircraft.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) was awarded a contract for eight MQ-9A Extended Range (ER) Unmanned Aircraft Systems as part of an ARES Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) contract. GA-ASI anticipates awards later this year for Ground Control Systems (GCS), spares, and Ground Support Equipment as part of the first increment of the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Expeditionary (MUX) Program of Record.

GA-ASI will begin first delivery of aircraft and support equipment this winter to facilitate the fleet standup in late summer 2023 for U.S. Marine Corps' (USMC) Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3 located at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. As part of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 efforts, VMU-3 will operate these MQ-9A ERs with their unique sensors and network capabilities to support training for the Marine Littoral Regiment.

The MQ-9A Extended Range (ER) is designed with field-retrofittable capabilities such as wing-borne fuel pods and reinforced landing gear that extends the aircraft's endurance to more than 30 hours, while further increasing its operational flexibility. It provides long-endurance, persistent surveillance capabilities, with Full-Motion Video and Synthetic Aperture Radar/Moving Target Indicator/Maritime Mode Radar.

An extremely reliable aircraft, MQ-9A ER 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. With more than seven million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike.

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