San Diego, May 16, 2023 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has marked a significant milestone in their ongoing collaboration with the US Marine Corps (USMC) by successfully delivering the first new-build MQ-9A Extended Range (ER) unmanned aerial system (UAS).

Enhancing Marine Air-Ground Task Force Capabilities

The delivery of the MQ-9A ER UAS took place on April 19, 2023, and is part of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Expeditionary (MUX) Program. Additionally, GA-ASI was awarded a contract in 2022 to provide a total of eight MQ-9A ER UAS to the USMC under the ARES Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) contract.

Designing the MQ-9A ER UAS

The MQ-9A ER is designed to enhance the USMC’s capabilities with its extended endurance and field-retrofittable features. The aircraft’s endurance has been extended to over 30 hours, allowing for extended missions and increased operational flexibility. With the addition of wing-borne fuel pods and reinforced landing gear, the MQ-9A ER offers improved range and adaptability.

Equipped with advanced sensor capabilities, including Full-Motion Video and Synthetic Aperture Radar, the MQ-9A ER provides the USMC with long-endurance surveillance capabilities. This enables the collection of real-time data, enhancing situational awareness and supporting critical missions.

Fred Darlington, the Vice President for MQ-9 Systems at GA-ASI, expressed his excitement about the delivery, stating that it strengthens the relationship between GA-ASI, the USMC, and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). He emphasized the significance of launching the MUX MALE (Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance) Program of Record, moving it from concept into reality.

GA-ASI’s Previous Deliveries to the USMC

GA-ASI has a proven track record in the field of unmanned aviation systems, having delivered millions of flight hours with their remotely piloted aircraft. Their commitment to providing mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems aligns with the USMC’s requirements for persistent flight and rapid strike capabilities.

In addition to the MQ-9A ER UAS, GA-ASI has previously delivered two MQ-9A Reaper Block 5 drones to the USMC in 2021. These deliveries demonstrate the company’s continued support for the USMC’s evolving mission requirements and its commitment to advancing unmanned aviation capabilities.