Contract for U.S. to provide support services for British MQ-9 Reaper MALE

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom of defense articles and services for continued follow-on support to the MQ-9 Reaper program for an estimated cost of $500 million.

Contract for US to provide support services for British MQ 9 Reaper MALE 925 001
A British Royal Air Force MQ-9 Reaper UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is pictured airborne over Afghanistan during Operation Herrick. It is armed with a full complement of two GBU-12 226kg (500lb) laser-guided bombs and four Lockheed Martin AGM-114P Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. (Picture source British MoD)

The Government of the United Kingdom has requested to buy defense articles and services for continued follow-on support to the MQ-9 Reaper program including: contractor logistics support, manpower and base support, publication and technical documentation, depot and organizational level maintenance and equipment, minor modifications and upgrades, software support, spare and repair/return parts, program studies, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and technical support, and other related elements of program support. The total estimated program cost is $500 million.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) association with Reaper has its origins in 1115 Flight, formed under the Combined Joint Predator Task Force in January 2004. This embedded UK personnel in US Predator operations, providing a core of expertise when Reaper training began in December 2006.

Five additional aircraft were contracted in 2012 and on October 26, XIII Sqn re-formed in preparation for operations from RAF Waddington.  Reaper had been scheduled to go out of service in 2015, but has since been heavily committed to Operation Shader.  The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed that a replacement RPAS would be sought to include more than 20 aircraft for delivery from 2018.

The MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle manufactured (UAV) by the U.S. Company General Atomics. This UAV is capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations. The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets.

Reaper is operated by crews of professional pilots, sensor operators and Mission Intelligence Co-ordinators from Ground Control Stations.

Two cameras in the nose of the aircraft provide the crew with a forward view using either daylight TV or Infrared, as well as the ability to utilise a targeting pod. An advanced, secure satellite communications system permits the crew to control the aircraft over the horizon. RAF personnel have flown more than 44,000 hours providing essential support to NATO ground forces in Afghanistan.