General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and the US Marine Corps (USMC) are celebrating the delivery of the first new-build MQ-9A Extended Range Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) as part of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Expeditionary (MUX) Program.

On April 19, 2023, GA-ASI handed over the first new-build MQ-9A ER UAS to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) after successfully completing the Company-Owned Company-Operated Deployment Contract.

GA-ASI secured the opportunity to provide eight MQ-9A ER UAS under the ARES Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity contract, awarded by the USMC in 2022.

The MQ-9A ER has field-retrofittable capabilities, including wing-borne fuel pods and reinforced landing gear, which extends the aircraft’s endurance to over 30 hours while enhancing its operational flexibility. This enhanced range and endurance equip the USMC with a long-endurance, persistent surveillance platform capable of supporting critical missions.

Equipped with Full-Motion Video, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Moving Target Indicator, and Maritime Mode Radar capabilities, the MQ-9A ER can capture high-quality imagery and gather real-time data, which enhances situational awareness for the USMC, enabling them to make informed decisions in dynamic operational environments.

The MQ-9A ER’s design ensures reliability, incorporating a fault-tolerant flight control system and a triple-redundant avionics system architecture. These advanced features enable the UAS to operate in challenging conditions while maintaining operational safety.

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The delivery of the first new-build MQ-9A ER UAS signifies GA-ASI’s dedication to supporting the USMC’s evolving mission requirements. In recent years, the USMCs have taken deliveries of the MQ-9A. In 2021, the USMCs took the delivery of two MQ-9A Reaper Block 5 drones from GA-ASI.

“It’s exciting to make this initial delivery to NAVAIR, which strengthens the relationship between GA-ASI, the USMC, and NAVAIR while launching the MUX MALE (Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance) Program of Record from concept into reality,” said GA-ASI Senior Vice President for MQ-9 Systems, Fred Darlington.

The MQ-9A is a widely procured unmanned aerial vehicle worldwide, with the Spanish Air Force, the Dutch Air Force, and the Polish Air Force all purchasing the aircraft in recent years.