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.

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That seems pretty expensive for a drone with a 15m USD flyaway cost. With 10 in service, it means you spend the price of the drone on 3 or 4 years of servicing.
Don’t get me wrong i think it’s a great piece of kit, but it reminds me of the printers you buy at a cheap price, but they rinse you on the ink cartridges
I hope the Protector arriving in 2023 will be cheaper to maintain


Sounds like what BMW charges to repair their cars. lol


Shame the MOD didn’t get behind a British drone after reaper goes out of service. But the new Protector seems to be a great drone and I suppose everything’s far easier if the Americans have the same gear, then Atleast we can be trained by them and gain some of their vast knowledge in the process ?? ??

Daniele Mandelli

Not just the UAV Cam. But the systems and Intel network sharing backing it all up.

See RAF Marham’s TIIW and the “Crossbow” network, another part of the bilateral Intelligence partnership between the UK/USA.


Maybe auditors need to take a closer look at such awards. £72mil for such a small fleet seems excessive? I would suggest such work comes closer to home at a more realistic cost. I’m a big fan of autonomous vehicles but, the maintenance costs need to be reduced to make them viable compared to manned machines?


Why does Royal Air force on the side look more like a branding logo nowadays.