General Atomics has been awarded £72.5m contract by the United Kingdom for MQ-9A Reaper Contractor Logistics Support Phase IV.
According to a note from the US State Department, this contract provides for depot repair, life cycle sustainment, and software maintenance services for UK’s MQ-9A fleet.
Work will be performed in Poway, California.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a remotely piloted medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) aircraft designed for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), and attack missions.
According to the contract notice:
“This contract involves 100 percent foreign military sales to the UK. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $90,961,866 are being obligated at the time of award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8620-19-C-2003).”
In 2014, 7 years after the aircraft had first been used by the UK against the Taliban, the MoD decided that its MQ-9A Reaper fleet would be brought into the RAF’s core fleet once operations over Afghanistan cease. Procurement of the MQ-9A was via an urgent operational capability requirement and funded from the Treasury reserve, but induction into the core fleet will have them funded from the MoD’s budget.
On the 4th of October 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the RAF would replace its existing fleet of 10 Reapers with more than 20 of the “latest generation of RPAS”, named as “Protector”. In April 2016, the MoD revealed that Protector will be a version of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, formally known as Certifiable Predator B (CPB), made to fly in European airspace, and will be acquired from 2018–2030.
In July 2018, it was announced that this aircraft will be designated Protector RG Mk 1 in RAF service, and is to be delivered in 2023 when it will replace Reaper.