General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. headquartered in Poway, California, has clinched a $16.9m (€16.5m) contract modification, advancing support for the Italian Air Force’s MQ-9 unmanned aerial system programme. 

GlobalData’s intelligence on the Italian defence market shows that the Italian Air Force has six MQ-9A Reaper UAVs in its inventory. The medium altitude long endurance UAV was acquired between 2004 and 2008. 

The work, expected to be completed by January 31, 2025, spans locations in Poway, California, Italy, and Kuwait. The logistics support includes core services, depot repairs, engineering support, field team assistance, technical order revision services, insurance, contractor-managed storage, transportation, data services, spares, and software maintenance for the MQ-9 Blocks 1 and 5 aircraft.

This contract sees Italy being the beneficiary of the entire $16.9m obligation at the time of award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio has played a role in contracting.

As geopolitical landscapes evolve, alliances and collaborations in defence technology become increasingly crucial. General Atomics’ expanded role in supporting the Italian Air Force elevates the MQ-9 drone fleet’s capabilities and signifies a noteworthy stride towards international cooperation. 

In August 2023, the Royal Netherlands Air Force strengthened its intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance capabilities by doubling its MQ-9A Reaper procurement from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc..

The expansion from four to eight aircraft follows the success of the initial delivery in 2022. This decision reflects the growing global popularity of the MQ-9A Reaper, with other nations like Spain and Poland making similar acquisitions.