US Marines Conduct First MQ-9A UAS Flight in Middle East

By Mike Ball / 21 Apr 2020
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GA-ASI MQ-9A UAS in Middle East

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has conducted the first operational flight of an MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial system (UAS) in the Middle East. The unmanned aircraft, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), is a multi-sensor reconnaissance platform that provides crucial support for the USMC’s forward operations on the battlefield.

A crew of pilots and sensor operators from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1), with support from GA-ASI, took control of a Company Owned/Company Operated (COCO) MQ-9A supporting forward deployed Marines. VMU-1 currently leases MQ-9A Reaper aircraft to fulfill its urgent needs request for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) in Afghanistan, and has been working with GA-ASI as the USMC transitions its COCO MQ-9A contract to a Government Owned/Government Operated (GOGO) contract. Over 7,000 hours of COCO flight operations have been performed since September 2018.

The GOGO capability fulfills the Commandant’s directive for USMC Group 5 persistent ISR capability with strike. VMU-1 will be the test bed and incubator to provide crucial information, lessons learned, requirements, tactics, techniques, and procedures that will aid in the USMC efforts for the successful acquisition and fielding of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Expeditionary (MUX) Group 5 capability.

David R. Alexander, president of GA-ASI, commented: “This achievement represents a unique milestone and example of the Marine Corps’ legacy of innovation. As a partner with the Marine Corps, we look forward to expanding the role of Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) UAS in support of maritime littoral missions.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact